Kyrgyz Supreme Court overturns designation of human rights groups’ work as ‘extremist’

Bishkek, 23rd October 2018: The Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan has granted a petition by SRT grantee Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan, challenging a lower court’s designation of reports on migrants’ rights by Bir Duino and Anti-Discrimination Centre (ADC) Memorial as ‘extremist’ and banning the activities of ADC Memorial.

In its decision on 5th January 2017, the Oktyabrski District Court in Bishkek had declared a report submitted by ADC Memorial and Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan to the UN Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers as ‘extremist material’, and subsequently banned all activities by ADC Memorial in Kyrgyzstan. Bir Duino’s lawyers argued that the Kyrgyz authorities had not notified either ADC Memorial or Bir Duino of the lower court’s decision, and that the right of the two organisations to defend themselves in court and to appeal the decision within legally established deadlines was therefore violated.

The Supreme Court reinstated the period of appeal for the January 2017 decision and annulled the decision of the Oktyabrski Court in its entirety, thus lifting the ‘extremist materials’ designation at least temporarily, and reinstating the right of ADC Memorial to carry out its activities in Kyrgyzstan. The matter was remanded to the Oktyabrski Court for reconsideration.

Tolekan Ismailova said, ‘Yesterday’s decision by the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan evidences the incipience of the rule of law and independence of the judiciary in Kyrgyzstan. The practice of power structures, like the offices of the General Prosecutor and the Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security, with the abusive implementation of Article 299 Part 2 of the Penal Code of Kyrgyzstan against independent NGOs, activists, bloggers and ethnic minorities must be abandoned. Bir Duino welcomes the decision of the Supreme Court and congratulates its partners and colleagues in the reinstatement of their rights and good name’.

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