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25 May 2016

Kyrgyz Parliament rejects amendments to the NGOs Law

On 12 May 2016, the Kyrgyz Parliament rejected in the third and final reading amendments to the Law 'On Non-Commercial Organisations' (NGOs), which following revision by the Committee on Human Rights, Constitutional Legislation and State Organisation suggested to introduce a new concept of 'a foreign non-governmental organisation'.

The draft law 'On Introducing Changes to Certain Pieces of Legislation of Kyrgyz Republic (Law 'On Non-Commercial Organisations', Law 'On State Registration of Legal Entities, Branches (representative offices)' and Criminal Code of Kyrgyzstan' was submitted for consideration by the Kyrgyz Parliament in autumn 2013. Inspired by similar legislation passed by the Russian Federation in 2012, it introduced the concept of 'a foreign agent'. Though adopted in the first reading, the draft law was subsequently revised by the Committee on Human Rights, Constitutional Legislation and State Organisation in view of its severe critique as unconstitutional by human rights defenders within the country and human rights organisations worldwide.

Though less repressive and discriminatory in nature, the new version of the law introduced some burdensome reporting obligations for NGOs; in particular Article 17, which was amended with an obligation on NGOs falling within the category of a 'foreign non-governmental organisation' to submit annual reports concerning their economic and financial activities, their source of funding and information concerning management and staff. These requirements were more strict than those applying to establish a business or political party. Discriminatory in nature, these provisions risked to restrict freedom of association in Kyrgyzstan.

On 14 April 2016, the amendments were adopted in the second reading, but in the third reading the Kyrgyz Parliament unexpectedly rejected the draft law. According to the rules of the Parliament, the rejected bill can be re-considered after a period of six months from when it was rejected. Kyrgyz human rights defenders, however, fear that another draft law of the same nature could be introduced to the Parliament within these six months.

Front Line Defenders welcomes the decision of the Parliament of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan to reject the discriminatory and repressive amendments to the legislation on non-governmental organisations. Front Line Defenders further urges Kyrgyzstan to guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the country are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.