OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media welcomes move to decriminalize defamation in Kazakhstan
VIENNA The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, welcomed the decision of the lower chamber of the parliament of Kazakhstan to decriminalize defamation.
“I welcome the decision taken in the Mazhilis, the lower Chamber of the Parliament of Kazakhstan, on 6 May, to decriminalize defamation. This is an important step forward, which I have been calling for and expecting. The sweeping applications of laws on defamation and insult have been of great concern to my Office for a long time, as too many journalists have been criminally prosecuted or investigated, or have fallen victim to heavy fines, simply for performing their duty of informing citizens,” the Representative said. “Journalists must be able to pursue their work without fear of criminal reprisal, and I commend the fact that Kazakhstan, alongside Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, have implemented their pledge to decriminalize defamation,” Désir added.
“I would now urge the authorities to move further and repeal a number of other tools in the Criminal Code, which refer to defamation and which may still stifle freedom of expression,” the Representative said. He referenced, in particular, Article 131 on “Insult”, Article 274 on “Distribution of Deliberately False Information”, and a number of articles protecting the honour and dignity of the First President, President, parliamentarians and representatives of public authorities.
As provisions in the Administrative Code are replacing some of the criminal provisions on defamation, the Representative recalled that defamation should be dealt with according to Civil Law and not through Administrative Law.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media has campaigned consistently on decriminalizing defamation in the entire OSCE area and in Central Asia in particular, including during the two Judicial Dialogues, organized by his Office in Bishkek, in December 2018, and in Samarkand, in March 2020.
Source: Organization for Security and Co- operation in Europe