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OSCE Hails Kyrgyz Move To Decriminalize Libel, Slander

Miklos Haraszti (file photo) (Courtesy Photo) March 27, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The OSCE's representative on freedom of the media has hailed the Kyrgyz parliament's ongoing efforts to remove two articles on libel and slander from the Criminal Code.

Miklos Haraszti of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said today that he views the moves as a sign of the country's commitment to freedom of the media.

On March 26, Kyrgyz lawmakers approved a proposal in the first reading to remove articles 127 and 128. A second reading is scheduled within the next two weeks.

The two articles have repeatedly been used to fine and jail independent journalists and close down media outlets.

Haraszti also welcomed the signing into law on March 26 of a bill to reform the state television channel, saying it opens the possibility for "truly independent broadcasting."

The bill, passed by parliament last year, will transform state television into a public broadcaster funded from the national budget.