On May 25, 2002 President Akaev terminated Resolution No. 20 (“Resolution”) of the Government of Kyrgyzstan “On Some Issues of Publishing Activities”. Several provisions in the Resolution directly contradicted the Kyrgyz Constitution and provisions of international law protecting freedom of speech. The Resolution seriously threatened freedom of speech and the right to disseminate information. For example, the Resolution required the registration of all fax machines, copiers, scanners and other equipment that could be used for publishing activities and required prior certification for any publishing activity.
Immediately after this Resolution came into effect the Parliament’s Committee for Public Associations and Information Policies warned the public and the international community about the danger of the Resolution and protested against it. Upon the special request of the Committee for Public Associations and Information Policies ICNL provided its commentary on the said Resolution, which was delivered to the Government. ICNL’s commentary was placed on the list server CANGO.NET.KG and was thus provided to 2,000 of subscribers representing the mass media and NGO representatives.
Many Kyrgyz and international mass media organizations and NGOs protested against this restrictive Resolution. Civil Society Resource Centers, and the Counterpart Consortium together with several Kyrgyz organizations took the lead and launched an effective advocacy campaign. 42 roundtables discussing the Resolution and its affect on civil society took place throughout Kyrgyzstan. Over 800 representatives from the mass media, NGOs, and government officials of all levels participated in these roundtables and signed declarations against the Resolution. These Declarations were delivered to Bishkek and addressed to the President, Prime Minister, and the Parliament. Prominent representatives from the public unanimously protested against the Resolution at the national press conference on April 25th which was broadcasted nationwide. The advice and commentary provided by ICNL’s local expert helped NGOs and mass media representatives effectively address their concerns with the government. ICNL is proud to associate itself with the most effective and successful advocacy campaign in Kyrgyzstan in the recent years.
While the Resolution has been terminated, it is important for the NGO community to stay on alert. The President’s Decree of May 25, 2002, did not simply terminate the Resolution but authorized the Government of Kyrgyzstan to take “effective actions to regulate publishing activities in the Kyrgyz Republic based on the constitution and current legislation.” This may result in new attempts by the Government to restrict publishing activities affecting civil society organizations.