Kyrgyzstan's President Sadyr Japarov, seen in this October 2023 image, withdrew a draft law that would have required registration of internet news websites and would have expanded authorities’ powers to suspend and shutter press organizations by court order. (Photo: Bednyakov/Kremlin via Reuters)

CPJ welcomes Kyrgyzstan’s withdrawal of restrictive media bill

Stockholm, March 13, 2024—The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes Wednesday’s decision by Kyrgyzstan President Sadyr Japarov to withdraw from parliament a draft law that could have been weaponized against the independent press.

“Alongside Kyrgyzstan’s ongoing media crackdown, jailing of journalists, and Russian-inspired ‘foreign agents’ bill, the vague and repressive mass media bill could have been the nail in the coffin for Kyrgyzstan as a regional beacon for the free press. It is only right that it be retracted,” Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York, said on Wednesday. “Kyrgyz authorities must now engage in meaningful consultation with the media and press freedom advocates to ensure that any new version of the bill allays journalists’ fears that it would be used to silence critical voices.”

Japarov’s spokesperson Askat Alagozov said in a statement that the president ordered the bill withdrawn following a meeting with media representatives and that  the draft would be revised, without providing further details.

The bill was proposed in May and entered parliament in December. Journalists and rights advocates feared that provisions requiring registration of internet news websites and expanding authorities’ powers to suspend and shutter press organizations by court order would make it easier for authorities to stifle critical media.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe criticized the draft bill and called on the Kyrgyz authorities to repeal it.