Kyrgyz Republic: 12th EU-Kyrgyz Republic Human Rights Dialogue takes place
The European Union and the Kyrgyz Republic held their twelfth round of the annual Human Rights Dialogue on 15 September in Bishkek. The partners discussed a broad range of issues. The dialogue underscored the importance of close cooperation between the EU and the Kyrgyz Republic in the current geopolitical context.
The parties discussed the ongoing work to harmonize legislation under the new constitution in a transparent and inclusive manner. The EU stressed the need for effective and democratic checks and balances.
In particular, the EU and the Kyrgyz Republic engaged in a frank and detailed discussion on human rights and good governance issues. The EU expressed concern about the overall negative trend on fundamental human rights notably as regards a shrinking space for civil society to operate freely and increasing pressure on freedom of speech. In this regard, the EU raised concern about the broad and seemingly arbitrary application of criminal code Article 330 on hatred and discord and the implementation of the law on false information. The blocking of media and targeting of journalists, bloggers and social media users engaged in investigative journalism, civic or political participation critical of government is in contravention with Kyrgyzstan’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In this context, the EU raised a number of individual cases of concern, including those of Bolot Temirov and Kamil Ruziev.
Concerning the conditions of places of detention, the EU reiterated concerns about reports of deaths, torture and inhuman treatment and the very low rate of court adjudication of these allegations. The Ombudsperson and National Preventative Mechanisms need to be equipped with independence and effective capacities in line with the Paris Principles on standards for national human rights institutions. The EU repeated its concern that the death in prison of the prominent Human Rights defender Azimjan Askarov in summer 2020 has still not been impartially and transparently investigated and his family still awaits justice.
The parties discussed non-discrimination and the need for comprehensive legislation covering all forms of discrimination, including ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability and religious belief. The EU welcomed the efforts of the Kyrgyz Republic to strengthen the rights and protection of children and looks forward to the swift adoption of the draft Child Code. In line with its commitments under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Kyrgyz authorities outlined steps taken, including its recently developed ‘accessible country’ programme. The EU expressed its concern about the rising numbers of cases of violence against women and children in the country and urged effective victim support, proper investigation and access to justice.
The EU and the Kyrgyz Republic discussed cooperation in multilateral fora including Kyrgyzstan’s application for membership of the UN Human Rights Council. The constructive and open engagement of the Kyrgyz Republic with regard to its standing invitation to UN special procedures and mechanisms was noted with appreciation.
The Human Rights Dialogue was preceded by the meeting with local civil society representatives including human rights defenders and was held back-to-back with the EU’s GSP+ monitoring mission.
The Kyrgyz Republic has benefitted from the GSP+ (special incentive arrangement of the Generalised Scheme of Preferences for Sustainable Development and Good Governance) unilateral trade preferences since 2016. The current scheme will expire at the end of 2023. To continue benefitting, all GSP+ beneficiaries, including the Kyrgyz Republic, will have to go through a reapplication process. The EU encourages the Kyrgyz Republic to address its commitments, including the above-mentioned issues to ensure its continued enjoyment of GSP+ benefits.
The GSP+ mission and human rights dialogue serve to inform the assessment prepared by the European Commission of all GSP+ beneficiary countries to be submitted to the European Parliament and European Council at the end of the year.