OSCE Summit Must Examine Astana's Poor Rights Record -- Press Watchdog
On the agenda of today's OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Astana: Astana's dreams of hosting a rare OSCE summit . But that privilege must only be granted if Kazakhstan's poor press freedom and human rights record it scrutinized at such a session, says the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
In the three years since Kazakhstan was elected the 2010 chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,
new, stricter libel laws and “restrictive Internet and privacy bills”
have further undermined basic freedoms.
Halfway into its OSCE chairmanship, Kazakhstan is holding at least one journalist and one prominent human rights activist in prison in retaliation for their work; at least two independent newspapers have been shut down under government pressure; censorship has crept up into the only remaining oasis for free expression, the Internet; and the state has continued to use bureaucratic pressure—including politicized audits on printing houses—to stifle independent coverage.
CPJ calls on you to act now and prevent the further trampling of press freedom and human rights in Kazakhstan. You can start by insisting that a precondition of holding an OSCE summit in Astana this year is the placement of the current chair’s press freedom record high on the agenda, and by demanding the participation of independent journalists, and media rights, press freedom, and civil society activists in related discussions.
Astana has faced repeated criticism over its authoritarian inclinations since ascending to the OSCE chairmanship in January, making a mockery of the organization's rights credentials.
David Trilling is Eurasianet’s managing editor.