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Protests In Bishkek As Kyrgyz 'Foreign Agents' Law Nears Approval
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Kyrgyz human rights activists have gathered outside of parliament in Bishkek to protest against a proposed "foreign agents" law being considered by lawmakers.

The bill would require noncommercial, nongovernmental organizations involved in political activities -- and which receive any funds from foreign sources -- to be labled as “foreign agents”.

The bill is similar to one in force in Russia since 2012, which NGOs say has been used to silence dissent.

Critics say these laws unfairly label NGOs as "foreign agents," thus suggesting they are involved in espionage.

On March 12, the Kyrgyz legislation passed in its second reading.

If the parliament approves the bill again on its third reading, it will go to the president for his signature and become law.

The European Union has extended for a further year sanctions against Iran over its human rights record.

In a statement on April 12, the EU said the action covered 82 people and one entity.

It said the 28-nation EU had imposed asset freezes and travel bans against Iran since 2011 over "grave human rights violations" and these measures have been regularly updated.

Last month, Iran reacted angrily to the latest United Nations report on human rights in the country, saying it was "biased, discriminatory, and prepared with political motives."

The UN report noted, among other things, that in 2015 Iran carried out nearly 1,000 executions, "the highest rate in over two decades" and many of them juveniles.

The EU was a broker of the July 2015 landmark deal with Iran, under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.

Based on reporting by AFP

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