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Kazakh officials have said Facebook has at least 3.2 million users in the country, while other platforms owned by Meta Platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp have even more.

Kazakhstan has obtained access to Facebook's internal content-reporting system after the two sides came to an agreement -- the first of its kind in Central Asia -- that will allow the government to remove content it deems "harmful."

The joint agreement between Kazakhstan and Facebook owner Meta Platforms, announced on November 1, comes after the country threatened to block the social-media giant's millions of local users.

"Facebook has provided Kazakhstan direct and exclusive access to Facebook's 'Content Reporting System' (CRS) which can help the government to report content that may violate Facebook's global content policy and local laws of Kazakhstan," the sides said in a joint statement.

The Kazakh Ministry of Information And Social Development added in the statement that access to the CRS "will make it possible for the ministry to report in a timely manner about the content containing violations of both Facebook's global content policies and the national legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan."

In mid-September, Kazakh lawmakers approved the first reading of a bill that would have obliged Facebook and other foreign-owned social networks to register in Kazakhstan and set up representative offices there, where hundreds of opposition and human rights activists have been prosecuted for their postings on social media, especially when expressing support for the banned Koshe (Street) party and the associated Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DVK) movement.

Critics of the bill have accused the authorities of the country of 19 million of seeking to gain new censorship tools, while the bill's authors say it aims to prevent cyber-bullying and the spread of other dangerous content.

Kazakh officials have said Facebook has at least 3.2 million users in the country, while other platforms owned by Meta Platforms such as Instagram and WhatsApp have even more.

According to the statement, Facebook held a training session for ministry experts and as of November 1, ministry staff had begun working with the system.

The ministry added that the two sides agreed to create mechanisms of "permanent cooperation," including the appointment of a representative from Facebook's regional office to work with the ministry.

With reporting by Reuters
Aziza Davlatova and her husband, Lutfullo Davlatov (combo photo)

DUSHANBE -- Following an outcry from activists, authorities in Tajikistan have launched a probe into the alleged beating of a young woman, Madina Mamadjonova, who is currently in grave condition, by the wife of an executive of the Megafon cellular communications company.

The Dushanbe city administration said on November 1 that the probe was launched against Aziza Davlatova and her husband, Lutfullo, aka Parviz, Davlatov. Davlatov is believed to have connections among senior Tajik officials. It is not clear what charges the couple could face.

The victim, Madina Mamadjonova, was reportedly having an affair with Davlatov. She went missing on August 25 and was found several hours later with severe injuries. She remains hospitalized in serious condition. Doctors say she might be left permanently paralyzed.

Davlatova was detained initially on suspicion of assaulting Mamadjonova, but was later released under a recently announced mass amnesty to mark the 30th anniversary of Tajikistan's independence.

After human rights activists raised concerns over the situation on social networks, Dushanbe Mayor Rustam Emomali, who is a son of longtime Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, announced he had taken the case under his personal control and ordered the city police and prosecutor's office to investigate.

There have been many cases in Tajikistan and other post-Soviet Central Asian nations in which perpetrators linked to influential families or top officials seemed to have avoided legal liability for their actions.

Earlier this year, a nephew of Rahmon's wife avoided a prison term after being convicted of involvement in a brawl in which four people suffered stab wounds.

With reporting by Asia-Plus

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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