OSCE media freedom representative calls on authorities in Kazakhstan to stop persecuting independent journalists
VIENNA, 26 December 2015 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today said the recent detention of two journalists in Kazakhstan pose a direct threat to media freedom in the country.
“Incarcerating members of the media for what they say and write is simply unacceptable,” Mijatović said. “These journalists must be released immediately.”
Guzal Baidalinova, owner and editor of the independent news portal Nakanune.kz, was detained on 23 December after claims from a private bank that Nakanune had published “deliberately false information which may cause damage to the bank and disturb public order.” If convicted, Baidalinova could face seven years in prison.
On 18 December Rafael Balgin, a journalist with Nakanune, was detained and ordered to serve three months in detention. The two cases followed police searches on 18 December in Baidalinova and Balgin’s and another colleague’s apartments, as well as the editorial offices of Nakanune.
In August 2015 Nakanune.kz was ordered to pay damages in the amount of 20 million KZT (approx. 75,000 EUR) for an article about the bank’s activities. The new legal action is based on the same article, already taken down from the site by the court order.
On 25 September, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media expressed her concern about disproportionate legal action initiated against media outlets in Kazakhstan (see public statement available at www.osce.org/fom/185401).
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter:@OSCE_RFoM and on www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.