IFJ Urges Kazakhstan President to Veto Bill Attacking Press Freedom

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today called on Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev to veto amendments to the country’s media law that would impose tight restrictions on journalists and pose a grave threat to freedom of expression and freedom of the press.


“We believe these changes to the media law will put more pressure on journalists and force them to produce only government-sanctioned reports, which is clearly not the role of a truly free and independent press,” said IFJ General Secretary Aidan White in a letter to the President. “They will neither ‘safeguard the public's trust in the media’ nor ‘strengthen the state security’ as your government has claimed.”


The proposed changes to existing media laws would bar editors of media outlets that have been closed by court order from working in the same capacity for other publications. They would also exercise tighter state control over reporters and double the number of infractions available to authorities to deny a media outlet official registration.


In April 2004, Mr. Nazarbaev vetoed similar legislation that would have tightened state control over the press. The IFJ is asking that the President veto the current proposed legislation to show that his country is committed to establishing a free, democratic press.


“The international community will gauge the progress Kazakhstan is making based on the outcome of this issue,” White said. “By stopping this attack on media, President Nazarbaev can show the world his government’s commitment to democracy.”


The IFJ letter to President Nazarbaev asks him to veto amendments to the media law and is asking its member organisation to put pressure on the government by also sending letters of protest.


You can contact the president at:


Mr. Nursultan Nazarbaev

President of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Ul. Beybitshilik 11

473000 Astana

Kazakhstan


Fax: +7-3172-243308

IFJ Letter to President Nazarbaev :

Mr. Nursultan Nazarbaev

President of the Republic of Kazakhstan



Dear President Nazarbaev,


On behalf of the International Federation of Journalists and our 500,000 member journalists all over the world, I am asking you to veto amendments to media laws in Kazakhstan that would impose tight restrictions on journalists in your country and pose a grave threat to freedom of expression and freedom of the press.


The IFJ has learned that proposed changes to existing media laws would bar editors of media outlets that have been closed by court order from working in the same capacity for other publications. They would also exercise tighter state control over reporters and double the number of infractions available to authorities to deny a media outlet official registration.


We believe these changes to the media law will put more pressure on journalists and force them to produce only government-sanctioned reports, which is clearly not the role of a truly free and independent press. They will neither ‘safeguard the public's trust in the media’ nor ‘strengthen the state security’ as your government has claimed.


Mr. President, in April 2004 you vetoed similar legislation that would have deprived journalists and publications of their basic rights. We urge you to do it again and show that your government is committed to establishing a free, democratic press.


This is a prime opportunity to show the world that the Kazakh government is committed to freedom of expression, which is especially important in light of your country’s bid to chair the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2009.


Sincerely,

Aidan White

General Secretary

International Federation of Journalists



For further information contact the IFJ: +32 2 235 2200 


The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in over 100 countries