05/27/2015, 00.00
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UN calls on Kyrgyz authorities to revise bill that labels NGOs as "foreign agents"

The bill would affect foreign-funded organisations involved in political activities to register as foreign agents. For UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the bill fails to define “political activities” and could jeopardise human rights and freedom of association. Human Rights Watch warns that the bill will “only stigmatize” NGOs working in the country.

Bishkek (AsiaNews) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on Kyrgyzstan to review a draft law on "foreign agents" that could have a negative impact on many rights groups active in the country.

In a statement, UN rights spokesman Rupert Colville said that the draft law requires foreign-funded non-commercial organisations involved in political activities to register as foreign agents without clearly defining the term "political activities."

Colville said the draft, which the Kyrgyz parliament is scheduled to begin its first reading today, refers only to "activities aimed at influencing the decisions of public authorities in order to change their policy, as well as activities aimed at influencing the public opinion for the above-mentioned purposes."

"This vague wording may put at risk numerous organizations working to deliver services or conduct human rights advocacy," says the UN statement.

For this reason, Kyrgyz authorities should "ensure that the freedoms of expression and association are protected in line with international human rights law and standards."

The statement ends by urging “a review of this draft law to ensure that it does not restrict the important work of civil society organizations in the country."

In a similar statement issued on 21 May, Human Rights Watch said, "Such inappropriate and unjustified interference would be incompatible with the right to freedom of association.” The latter is guaranteed by Art. 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948.

For the New York-based rights group, the bill “blatantly flouts” Kyrgyzstan’s national and international human rights commitments, and will “only stigmatize” NGOs working in Kyrgyzstan.

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