Kyrgyzstan: CSOs worry over high levels of corruption and discrimination of LGBTI+ community

Published on 26 Oct 2022, 11:00 AM

Kyrgyzstan was reviewed by the Human Rights Committee on 11 and 12 of October 2022

Protest on the results of parliamentary elections in 2020 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. By Vladimir Voronin/Associated Press

The Human Rights Committee reviewed the third periodic report of Kyrgyzstan on 11 and 12 of October 2022. The delegation was led by Edil Baisalov, prominent former activist of the Kyrgyz civil society and Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers to the Kyrgyz Republic. In his opening remarks, Mr. Baisalov mentioned current President Japarov, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for, what he said, were trumped-up charges for the kidnapping of a local government official.  Mr. Japarov was freed from prison in 2020 following large-scale protests in response to the allegations of vote-buying during the parliamentary elections in Kyrgyzstan. Mr Baisalov also talked about the country’s recent adoption of a new constitution following a referendum in April 2021.

During the dialogue, key issues raised by the Committee included the lack of anti discrimination laws to prevent hate speech and hate crimes, particularly concerning the LGBTI+ community, corruption by public officials, including high-profile cases, and the eroding indepence of the judiciary in Kyrgyzstan. The State delegation also mentioned a new draft law on NGOs and future changes on the law on non-commercial organizations, and denied the existence of a law on foreign agents in Kyrgyzstan.

Discrimination of the LGBTI+ community

The Committee questioned the delegation about the lack of anti discrimination laws to prevent hate speech and hate crimes in Kyrgyzstan. Moreover, Committee member Mr. El Haiba brought up cases of State agencies conducting attacks and stigmatization based on sexual orientation and gender indentity, with a large number of articles published online inciting discrimination. Mr. El Haiba asked whether investigations had been opened and whether any officials had been prosecuted and convicted. The delegation replied that civil society and the press continued to engage freely in such discussions in Kyrgyzstan, but legislation would only follow when their society is ready to accept LGBTI+ identities.

Independence of the judiciary and corruption

The Committee also raised the issue of the executive eroding judicial independence in Kyrgyzstan. The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the conviction of the current President Japarov for the kidnapping of a local government official and the appointment of judges were issues of concern. The security of lawyers was also mentioned, since according to civil society information, the majority of Kyrgyz lawyers are harassed and find institutional safeguards to be insufficient.

Corruption by public officials and the measures for deterrence and to strengthen whistleblower mechanisms taken by Kyrgyzstan were also issues of concern. According to Transparency International, the Corruption Perception Index of Kyrgyzstan ranked 144 out of 180 states. The delegation replied that they were reviewing the legislation on transparency of property and income of public officials because before government ministers refused to report information based on their right to privacy. They also mentioned that an improved system of tax administration was already in place, which reported a 54 per cent increase in tax revenue.

Watch the dialogue with the Committee here (part one) and here (part two).

Recommendations of the Human Rights Committee

Concluding Observations on the Kyrgyzstan third periodic report were released on 3 November 2022. The State party is requested to provide, by 2025, information on the implementation of the following  recommendations:

Counter-terrorism measures

The State party should:

  • (a) Clarify and narrow the broad definitions contained in national counterterrorism legislation
  • (b) Provide appropriate safeguards, including judicial oversight, for any limitations of human rights for national security purposes and ensure that the application of such limitations serves legitimate aims, is necessary and proportionate;
  • (c) Pursue its efforts in repatriating all Kyrgyz nationals from Iraq and Syria and provide them with support, rehabilitation, reintegration and family reunification.

Freedom of conscience and religious belief

The State party should:

  • (a) Expedite the adoption of the legislative amendments to the Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations Act and ensure a transparent and fair registration process for religious organizations and through the decriminalization of any religious activity by unregistered religious organizations;
  • (b) Regulate the allocation of places for the burial and administration of cemeteries preventing discrimination on religious grounds.

Freedom of expression

The State party should:

  • (a) Refrain from the use of criminal prosecution as a tool to suppress critical reporting on matters of public interest;
  • (b) Strengthen the protection of bloggers, journalists, human rights defenders and government critics against any kind of threat, pressure, intimidation or attack and ensure that all cases of undue interference are thoroughly and independently investigated, prosecuted and sanctioned and that victims are provided with effective remedies;
  • (c) Review the Law on the Protection from Unreliable (False) Information and ensure effective safeguards and judicial overview of all decisions on blocking media resources;
  • (d) Review the national legal and institutional framework that may unduly restrict media freedom to ensure their compliance with the Covenant and general comment No. 34 (2011).

Here you can find all the recommendations given by the Committee in the Concluding Observations.

The follow-up report of Kyrgyzstan on the implementation of the recommendations is due in 2025. The next list of issues will be adopted in 2028, and the next periodic report is due in 2029.

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