Tuesday 16 October 2018
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29 days ago

Kyrgyzstan: Abusive Crackdowns on Extremist Material

Expand Counterterrorism police carry out a search in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on October 16, 2015.  © 2016 Ulan Asanaliev/RFE/RL (Bishkek) – Kyrgyzstan is convicting hundreds of people for possessing videos, pamphlets, and books that it has banned using a dangerously overbroad definition of extremism, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Offenders are sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison even if they did not distribute the material or use it to incite violence. The 78-page report, “‘We Live in Constant Fear’: Possession of Extremist Material in Kyrgyzstan,” finds that in some cases, suspects are charged for possessing material that the authorities classified as extremist only after their arrests. Several suspects told Human Rights Watch that police and security agents had planted the material during searches, then demanded payoffs to end investigations. Some said law enforcement officials tortured them to extract confessions. September 17, 2018 Report “We Live in Constant Fear” Possession of Extremist Material in Kyrgyzstan Download the full report in English Download the summary and recommendations in Kyrgyz Download the summary and recommendations in Uzbek “Kyrgyzstan should prosecute people for committing or plotting violence, but not for the videos they watch or the books they read,” said Letta Tayler, senior terrorism and counterterrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch and the report’s author. “Outlawing mere possession of material vaguely defined as extremist makes it all too easy to unjustly target political opponents, activists, journalists, defense lawyers, and ordinary citizens.” Human Rights Watch interviewed 70 people for the report, most during two visits to Kyrgyzstan, in 2017 and 2018. They included 11 people accused or convicted in these cases, famil

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