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Kyrgyz Ombudsman Calls On Lawmakers To Postpone NGO Debate

Kyrgyz Ombudsman Tokon Mamytov

BISHKEK -- Kyrgyz Ombudsman Tokon Mamytov has called on lawmakers to postpone debate on a controversial bill on nongovernmental organizations that has been criticized by rights activists in the Central Asian nation.

Mamytov urged parliament on January 29 to withdraw the bill from the agenda to allow for a broader discussion of the issue between lawmakers, representatives of NGOs, and the general public.

"All sides must gather and discuss the bill publicly in a very wide format in order to listen to each other and come to a common conclusion. The bill must be also discussed by the public and for that period of time we need to withdraw the bill's discussion in parliament," Mamytov said.

The bill proposes that all nongovernmental organizations in Kyrgyzstan report their activities and the sources of their financial support to government officials.

Human rights organizations in the former Soviet republic have criticized the bill, calling it a move to stifle civil society and muzzle dissent. They compare it with similar legislation in Russia known as the "foreign agent" law.