ASTANA, 12 July 2012 – An OSCE-supported conference to discuss legislative reform related to freedom of expression in Kazakhstan was held today in Astana.
The event brought together some 60 participants, including government officials, parliamentarians, international and national media experts, and representatives from non-governmental and international organizations.
Participants discussed media legislation reform issues, including the need to decriminalize libel and defamation, the regulation of moral compensation claims, the access to information draft law, and the implementation of the law of television and radio broadcasting.
“I hope the state’s regulation of the media will continue to reflect the country’s aspirations to ensure that its national policies conform to its international obligations. The OSCE is ready to continue to assist Kazakhstan in these efforts,” said Ambassador Natalia Zarudna, the Head of the OSCE Centre in Astana.
Bolat Kalyanbekov, the Chairperson of the Information and Archives Committee within the Ministry of Culture and Information, added: “From the time Kazakhstan became independent it has worked to guarantee citizens’ rights and freedoms, in particular in the media sphere. Over these years many new non-governmental media outlets and holdings have been established.”
“Recent changes to media-related legislation have created a disbalance by strengthening the protection of privacy to the detriment of freedom of speech,” said Tamara Kaleyeva, the President of the Adil Soz International Foundation for the Protection of Freedom of Speech, “Disproportionate moral damage claims have the potential to drive media outlets to bankruptcy. The time has come to address these issues by revising the legislation.”
The conference is co-organized by the OSCE Centre in Astana, the Article 19 Global Campaign for Free Expression, and the Adil Soz International Foundation for the Protection of Freedom of Speech with the support of the Embassy of Norway in Kazakhstan.