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Interfax reports concerns expressed by the Adil Soz Foundation (International Foundation for the Protection of Freedom of Speech) over Government propaganda about religious extremism in Kazakhstan.

In a report on freedom of speech in Kazakhstan in the first half of 2015, the Foundation said: “The cracking down on the opposition and the independent media is continuing, while new legislative initiatives are mostly aimed at restricting freedom of expression and freedom of information. The analysis of the situation makes us believe that the fear of religious extremism penetrating the country and the fear of the destabilization of society are the cause of these tendencies”.

logo-newThe Foundation continues: “The Government sees the way to stop these threats by human rights’ restrictions and tougher punishments rather than building a more productive dialogue with society and implementing more effective outreach and awareness-raising policies targeting extremist propaganda.”

Recommendations include amending the Civil Code of Kazakhstan and passing new media legislation on the media and Internet without regulating the creative parameters of the media. Further improvements to a draft bill ‘On access to information’ are also recommended, along with inviting the UN Special Rapporteur on promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression to visit the country.

Advil Soz say that in the first six months of 2015, eight reporters were detained in the country.

“The situation regarding assaults on reporters has improved considerably. Two cases were registered in the first half of the year. It is encouraging that both incidents were immediately diagnosed from a fundamental point of view and apologies were brought to the victims,” Adil Soz said.

The foundation said that in the first half-year, eight new criminal cases on libel charges were registered against reporters. Two of the three criminal cases opened under the Article “Instigating of social, national, tribal, racial, religious hatred or the same towards a certain class” were followed by guilty verdicts.

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