Сөз бостандығын қорғау халықаралық қоры
Международный фонд защиты свободы слова
The International Foundation for Freedom of Speech Protection

Statement of the International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech "Adil Soz" Regarding the Approval of the Law "On Mass Media" by the Senate of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan

13 june 2024

On June 6, the Senate approved the draft law "On Mass Media". The journalistic community largely succeeded in defending its positions during the development of the draft law. We welcome the establishment of a statute of limitations of one year for claims filed against media outlets. The absence of such limitations previously imposed significant pressure on press freedom and led to substantial financial burdens for archiving not only published materials but also all accompanying evidentiary bases. We also applaud the reduction of response times to media inquiries from seven to five working days. The law sets maximum deadlines for responding to media requests, and Adil Soz urges information providers to promptly supply requested information. The law includes provisions for grants to non-governmental media and introduces the concept of a special journalist status.  

However, several provisions opposed by journalists and human rights activists were nevertheless included. 

1) For instance, the new law mandates monitoring of the media for violations related to universal, cultural, national, and family values, although these terms are not precisely defined in any legislative act.  

2) Adil Soz proposed to increase liability for obstructing the lawful professional activities of journalists and for failing to provide answers to media enquiries. Proposals on these issues are currently being discussed with the authorised body. We hope that the members of Parliament will support these amendments as part of their subsequent legislative work. 

3) Adil Soz is concerned about the introduction of a requirement for journalists to comply with so-called "internal regime" regulations at strategic facilities, which encompass nearly all government agencies and enterprises. This provision could limit journalists' ability to fully carry out their professional duties within these facilities or lead to abuses at these sites.  

4) Adil Soz suggested ensuring greater transparency in media financing in the interest of citizens. Disclosing not only the actual owners of media outlets but also their key sponsors in the initial data of media would enhance the trust of Kazakhstan citizens in domestic journalism and strengthen editorial independence. 

We call upon the Parliament of Kazakhstan to engage in further cooperation and open dialogue to create more balanced and fair legislation that protects the rights of journalists and ensures freedom of speech in Kazakhstan. 

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