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Transparency International urges Kyrgyzstan’s decision makers to withdraw law on “foreign representatives”

Transparency International calls for Kyrgyzstan’s parliament to reject a Russian-inspired draft law that would classify externally funded civil society organisations (CSOs) as “foreign representatives”. The restrictive measure targeting CSOs is aimed at stigmatising them and potentially forcing them to cease operations, which has a chilling effect on the already shrinking civic space in the country.

The draft, which aims to increase government control over CSOs, was scheduled for its second reading in Kyrgyzstan’s parliament on 14 February but was removed from the agenda. The proposed legislation is part of a worrying trend in which Kyrgyzstani authorities have intensified efforts to restrict access to information, suppress free speech, and limit civic engagement. This includes other legislative measures such as a draft law to restrict media, pressure on independent media outlets, and the arrests and prosecution of prominent activists and journalists.

If the proposed legislation on ‘’foreign representatives’’ is enacted, hundreds of organisations that receive funding from abroad and engage in legitimate activities aimed at promoting public dialogue and advocate for improvements in legislation will face difficulties. The draft law would grant public authorities oversight powers and potentially impose criminal sanctions for vaguely outlined criminal offences. Organisations will have to choose to register as ‘’foreign representatives’’ and submit to excessive state control or refuse to do so and risk suspension and eventual liquidation.

Altynai Myrzabekova, Regional Advisor for Europe and Central Asia from Transparency International, said:

“The proposed law is incompatible with Kyrgyzstan’s international human rights commitments. Despite criticism from the international community, Kyrgyzstan’s decision makers seem determined to advance this dangerous agenda. If enacted, the law could seriously threaten Kyrgyzstan’s civil society and should be withdrawn.”