Responding to the news that the Kyrgyzstani authorities have filed a lawsuit to shut down Kloop Media Public Foundation, a not-for-profit independent media organization, Maisy Weicherding, Researcher for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International, said:
“Kloop Media is a respected independent voice that strives to provide reporting about the human rights situation in Kyrgyzstan backed by fact. This attempt by the Kyrgyz authorities to shut it down is the latest move in a regression on freedom of expression and the exercising of human rights for citizens of Kyrgyzstan.
The lawsuit, filed by the Bishkek city Prosecutor’s Office, points to the critical stance taken by Kloop’s reporting. Yet the right to freedom of expression – as protected under the Constitution of Kyrgyzstan and international human rights law – emphasizes the imperative of heightened protection for political expression. Given the watchdog role of the media, public officials are expected to tolerate the higher levels of criticism that may be levelled against them.
“The authorities’ unrelenting repression of freedom of speech and expression, including the targeting of journalists and government critics, and the crackdown on peaceful protest risks cancelling out the positive strides that have been made on human rights in Kyrgyzstan in the last few decades.
“Amnesty International is calling on the authorities to immediately withdraw the lawsuit and allow Kloop to continue its essential work as a beacon of truth and human rights within the country.”
Over the last two years, increasing numbers of government critics, including opposition politicians, human rights activists and journalists, who have legitimately exercised their right to hold the authorities of Kyrgyzstan to account, have been harassed, detained and prosecuted. A number of media outlets have also been shut down across Kyrgyzstan. In September 2023, the Ministry of Culture blocked Kloop’s website after the State Committee for National Security (GKNB) complained about an article profiling opposition politician, Ravshan Zheenbekov.
A repressive 2021 Law on Protection from False Information was used to further restrict media outlets. The authorities have also used criminal charges of inciting hatred, disobedience, riots or violence to suppress freedom of expression and clamp down on freedom of assembly, including by targeting media workers and human rights activists, and thus preventing criticism of public figures by journalists and the media.