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According to Freedom House survey “Freedom of the Press” Ranks Kazakhstan as Not Free

“Freedom of the Press” ranks Kazakhstan as not free, stated Mr. Antonio Stango, Project Director of Freedom House Kazakhstan, presenting the “Freedom of the Press 2004” survey prepared by Freedom House in the framework of the “Freedom of Speech in Kazakhstan” press conference, which took place on May 5, 2004 in Almaty.

This press conference organized by Freedom House, together with the “Adil Soz” Freedom of Speech Defense Fund and the Kazakhstan Press Club, was held to discuss the state of press freedom in Kazakhstan the same week as World Press Freedom Day, which takes place on May 3.

Among the discussed topics were the findings of Freedom House’s just-released “Freedom of the Press 2004” survey, and the implications of the recent veto by the Kazakh government of a mass media law. Participants offered recommendations on ways to improve media freedom in Kazakhstan.

Participants included Mr. Antonio Stango, Project Director of Freedom House Kazakhstan, Ms. Tamara Kaleyeva, President of “Adil Soz” Freedom of Speech Defense Fund, and Ms. Salla Kayhko, International Freedom of Expression Exchange.

Freedom House annual survey rates the state of press freedom in 193 countries. The survey assesses the degree of print, broadcast, and Internet freedom in every country in the world and assigns to each a category rating of Free, Partly Free, or Not Free. It analyzes events during the calendar year 2003. In a number of countries, political turmoil and election-related violence negatively impacted the press. The survey noted growing political and economic influence over the media in other countries.

“Freedom of the Press” ranks Kazakhstan as not free. Findings indicated in 2003 annual survey are as follows:

“Freedom of the press in 2003 remained poor following President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s crackdown on opposition media in the previous year.
Threats and physical attacks on journalists remain common, as does self-censorship by journalists and editors. The government controls or influences most newspapers, printing and distribution facilities, and electronic broadcasts. It also categorizes websites based in the country as media outlets and periodically blocks access to several opposition websites”.

Of the 27 countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, 8 (30%) are rated Free, 8 (30%) are Partly Free, and 11 (40%) are Not Free. Other than Georgia, the situation for the press in Central Asia and the Caucasus remained deeply troubled. Of the former Soviet Union and Soviet bloc countries that remain outside the expanded European Union, none are Free, 3 are Partly Free, and 11 are Not Free.

According to a 2003 survey by “Adil Soz” Freedom of Speech Defense Fund, “within 3 months only of 2004, the monitoring registered 247 incidents of direct and indirect infringements of mass-media and journalists rights, including 4 cases when journalists had been beaten and 11 attempts to interfere in their creative work dictating themes and content of publications. However, monitoring did not register any incident of calling guilty to account. There are 27 claims and suits concerning protection of honor, dignity and business reputation and compensation of moral damage addressed to mass media. The total amount of claims is about 40 million tenge (about USD 300,000)”.

“Adil Soz” states:

“Rejection of new law “Concerning Mass Media of the Republic of Kazakhstan” by Constitutional Council became an indubitably victory of Kazakhstani journalists’ society. President supported this decision and relieved journalist from new problems, but did not solve the existing ones. There is no need to wait when the newly-elected Kazakhstani Parliament begins solving these problems. It is necessary to amend the current law “Concerning Mass Media”, the Civil, Criminal and Administrative Codes as soon as possible, approaching the legal environment of journalists’ activity to international democratic standards”.

For more details, please click here:
“Freedom of the Press 2004” in Kazakhstan
“Freedom of the Press 2004” about the survey
“Freedom of the Press 2004” full text
“Adil Soz” press release concerning Freedom of Speech in Kazakhstan

May 7, 2004. By Freedom House & Adil Soz

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