Kazakh veto of media law is welcomed, but Kazakh
journalists will still come under limitations imposed by the
country's new election law – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
On April 22, 2004 Kazakh President Nursultan
Nazarbaev announced that he has vetoed a controversial bill that
would have imposed a new range of restrictions on the country's
media. Speaking before the Eurasian Media Forum in Almaty, Nazarbaev
said he made the decision after the country's Constitutional Council
found the bill violated the Kazakh Constitution.
Nazarbaev declined to say whether the bill will be amended and
re-submitted for parliamentary approval.
OSCE Secretary-General Jan Kubis, appearing at the same conference,
described Nazarbaev's decision as "very welcome."
“The applause, however, should go the civil society in Kazakhstan,
not the President who masterminded the draft law. It's their
victory, and it could have never happened without the broad support
from the international democratic community. Your expertise, your
reports and press statements, your protest letters were crucial for
this victory”, - said Rachid Nougmanov, International Freedom
Kazakhstan's political opposition and media-rights groups had
protested parliament's passage of the media legislation in March.
They said the bill's stricter registration and licensing rules
amounted to a clampdown on freedom of speech.
Speaking in a video news conference from Washington on April 21,
Elizabeth Jones, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Europe
and Eurasia, reiterated the U.S. concerns.
"We are [articulate] about our concerns about the mass media
legislation that has just been passed in Kazakhstan. We are very
concerned about some of the other reform issues. We talk all the
time in public and private about political reforms. It's going to be
extremely important in terms of the development toward elections in
Kazakhstan," - Jones said.
Attacks on the media, including beatings, intimidation, and lawsuits
have caused alarm in the international community.
Free-press advocates today applauded Nazarbaev's veto of the media
bill. But at the same time they noted that Kazakh journalists will
still come under limitations imposed by the country's new election
law. Critics say the new law, passed by Nazarbaev last week, will
restrict the media's coverage of Kazakhstan's parliamentary
elections later this year.
Almaty/Prague, 22 April 2004 (RFE/RL)
April 27, 2004. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty