Once again deputies try to restrain, hindering them, freedom of speech. Earlier, they tried to make media representatives keep silent by means of millions of applications, but now deputies stand up for criminal liability and punishment up to 5 years of imprisonment.
The history of Kyrgyzstan saw many cases when journalists became objects of persecution because of truth, unwanted for officials. Media representatives had been imprisoned in the days of previous authorities either. Current authorities, who came after April events, swore not to infringe freedom of speech. It turned out that they lied?
This time the member of Ar-Namys faction Eristina Kochkarova came forward with an initiative to reprove journalists. At session of the committee on law, order and crime prevention she said that media blames politicians without any reasons. "Journalists take the responsibility for public opinion. If they say that black is white, then everyone will start to believe it. So, people believe in much false report. For instance, I was blamed that I have foreign citizenship and apartments in Moscow. The new term "ushaktar" (rumors) has appeared," she said.
She suggests "punishing by deprivation of liberty for 3-5 years." But half of colleagues didn't support her. "The implementation of term "false report" can lead to freedom of speech infringement," the member of the Parliament Kenzhebek Bokoev thinks.
He expressed his opinion that in that way she tries to settle personal scores. "In Central Asia is the absolute freedom of speech. Journalists openly write about violations of officials, they can even find fault of the President. If we implement responsibility for false report, won't everyone be scared to say something and won't courts be snowed under lawsuits against each other? You have said what Mass Media wrote about you and showed the photos. It looks like you want to settle scores with the agency," not without a reason the deputy noted.
The member of Ata Meken faction Shirin Aitmatova, who was against the draft bill, also supported him. "The draft bill will be topical in 5 years. For false denunciation imprisonment will be stipulated. I'm not sure that our courts can consider cases objectively. It can lead to negative consequences," she said.
It is not a secret that many deputies don't favor correspondents because they poke and pry. They don't like when their iniquitous activities become known for wide public. By the way, it is not the first attempt of the Parliament to suppress the truth about their activities and reprove pen-drivers and telephoto workers. With similar initiative came forward the member of SDPK faction Galina Skripkina. Exactly before the journalists' professional holiday, social democrat also suggested to bring journalists to responsibility. However, after heavy criticism she recalled her draft bill having explained it saying that "society is not ready yet".
It is unknown what made her colleague raise the question on journalists' responsibility after 4 months. Is the society already ready to crush the freedom of speech? Or the representative of Ar-Namys faction doesn't like that Mass Media writes about faction's activity and leader?
Kochkarova noted that her initiative "doesn't have anything common with Galina Skripkina's draft bill." And it is really true. Because SDPK's representative didn't ask to imprison journalists as Ar-Namys member did.
"For many years the Article "Slander" was a crime against freedom, honour and dignity of person which referred to cases of private charges and considered only in legal process according to application of affected party. While "knowingly false report" is referred to "crimes against justice" and to public charge cases. She gives opportunity to law enforcement bodies open criminal cases against correspondents without application of affected party. Thus, we see the tendency to return of "slander". From all has been said it follows that suggested by the deputy amendment contradicts to the Constitution of the KR, where it is written that "nobody can be subjected to criminal persecution for information dissemination, discrediting or humiliating honor and dignity of person," the media expert Begaim Usenova noted.
Obviously Eristina Kochkarova doesn't even guess that such norm exists in the Fundamental Law of the country. It is easy to understand why deputies lobby amendments, considering today's situation in Kyrgyzstan. Lawyers don't exclude such possibility that in pretence of "fact finding" out of favor people will be put into Temporary Containment Cells or Investigation Cells.
If the deputies have only benevolent intentions and want to protect voters from false information about them, we advise to follow civil legislation, particularly Article 18 "Protection of honor, dignity and business reputation" of the Civil Code of the KR.
The draft bill was sent to voting without discussion. Will Kochkarova's colleagues support her? Or they are ready to violate the Constitution because of their desire to shut disliked journalists' mouth?