Combatting Hate Speech in Kyrgyzstan

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Combatting Hate Speech in Kyrgyzstan
27 January 2022
Location
Under the EU Media Dialogue programme, WFD delivered a campaign against the use of hate speech in Kyrgyzstani elections. In the run up to the November 2021 parliamentary elections, WFD targeted political parties, candidates, activists, and the media, to raise awareness of the concept of hate speech, the legal implications of its use, and positive measures that could be taken to prevent or avoid it. Political parties demonstrated their agreement with the aims of the campaign, when they included points discussed at WFD activities in the cross-party memorandum on holding elections within the law.

Westminster Foundation for Democracy in Kyrgyzstan (WFD) jointly with the Institute for Civic Development, have implemented a campaign in Kyrgyzstan for representatives of political parties, candidates, and youth activists. The aim of the campaign is to counter hate speech in the run-up to the parliamentary elections within the framework of the Media Dialogue project funded by the European Union.  

As part of the campaign, a series of trainings on avoiding hate speech and the national legislation related to hate speech were held for political parties and candidates with the participation of the Central Election Commission (CEC), as well as separately for youth and civic activists. Political parties and candidates noted the importance of holding peaceful and fair elections, respecting all participants of the electoral process, voters, and democratic principles. 

Youth representatives in turn prepared an open statement addressed to political parties and candidates running for upcoming parliamentary elections to reduce use of hate speech during the election campaign and beyond. In the open statement, representatives called on all participants of the electoral process to show tolerance towards members or representatives of political parties, candidates, and voters throughout the electoral process and to maintain a stable and peaceful environment and avoid discrimination and prejudice based on gender, religion, beliefs, race, ethnicity, nationality, age, or any other sign of identity. This open statement was presented during the trainings for political parties and candidates, and at the final round table, which took place in Bishkek.  

As a result of the campaign, proposals from the open statement addressed to political parties and candidates were included in the Memorandum signed between political parties participating in the upcoming parliamentary elections. This was signed on November 5 by representatives of political parties on the platform of the Central Election Commission.  

The representatives of the political parties, having signed this Memorandum, agreed not to publish, or distribute officially or anonymously via the Internet and other resources information, various campaigning materials containing threats of social discord and enmity, slander, direct and indirect borrowing or references to religious topics, as well as inciting to violence and disruption of public order. 

Issues on hate speech were also raised during television broadcasts on the NTS and NEXT TV channels prepared by WFD within the framework of this campaign, in which local experts, representatives of NGOs and a member of the CEC Uzarbek Zhylkybaev took part. 

 

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