OSCE media freedom representative urges Kazakh President to veto new Internet law

Representative on Freedom of the Media – OSCE media freedom representative urges Kazakh President to veto new Internet law

VIENNA, 25 June 2009 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklos Haraszti, criticised as restrictive today amendments to the country’s communication law, adopted on 24 June by the Kazakh Parliament, and called on President Nursultan Nazarbayev not to promulgate them.

‘Despite some minor changes introduced by the Senate, this law limits freedom of the Internet and media freedom in general. Its adoption would be a step backwards in the democratisation of Kazakhstan’s media governance,’ Haraszti wrote in a letter to President Nazarbayev.

Haraszti noted that his Office had provided assistance to the authorities, for example by conducting a legal review on how the draft law could be adapted to comply with media freedom requirements. The legal review’s recommendations were submitted to the authorities in February and presented in Astana in April. The Office continues to support the country’s media legislation reform, Haraszti added.

Haraszti brought to the attention of the President that the law contravenes OSCE commitments and international standards by:

– allowing for unjustified limitations of freedom of the Internet by equating forums, blogs, chats and other Internet resources with traditional media outlets
– expanding the list of justifications for suspending the production or the distribution of any media outlet
– limiting free access of Kazakhstan’s citizens to foreign media outlets and foreign Internet resources.

‘Refusing to enact this law will send a strong signal that the forthcoming OSCE Chairmanship of Kazakhstan in 2010 intends to fully honour the country’s OSCE media freedom commitments,’ Haraszti said in his letter to the President.