As Kazakhstan prepares to host an OSCE summit in December, it is facing criticism of its record on press freedom. One watchdog group is contending that Astana’s restrictive policies risk undermining the organization’s credibility.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a report September 14 that was scathing in its assessment of Astana’s tolerance for free speech and other basic rights. “Kazakhstan is falling well short of its commitments to the OSCE … and the fallout is toxic,” the CPJ report stated. “By disregarding human rights and press freedom at home, Kazakhstan has compromised the organization’s international reputation as a guardian of these rights, undermined the OSCE’s relevance and effectiveness, and thus devalued human rights in all OSCE states.”
Kazakh Foreign Ministry spokesman Ilyas Omarov countered that the government had not received any complaints from OSCE member states concerning media freedom. “Not a single OSCE country has criticized us over this,” he told EurasiaNet.org by telephone.
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Joanna Lillis is a freelance writer who specializes in Central Asia.