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UN Rights Body Urges Kyrgyzstan To Review 'Foreign Agents' Bill

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has urged Kyrgyzstan to review a draft law on "foreign agents" that could have a negative impact on many rights groups being active in the country.

UN rights spokesman Rupert Colville said in a May 26 statement that the draft law requires foreign-funded noncommercial organizations involved in political activities to register as foreign agents without clearly defining the term "political activities."

Colville said the draft, which the parliament is scheduled to begin its first reading of on May 27, refers only to "activities aimed at influencing the decisions of public authorities in order to change their policy, as well as activities aimed at influencing the public opinion for the above-mentioned purposes."

"This vague wording may put at risk numerous organizations working to deliver services or conduct human rights advocacy," says the UN statement.

It calls on Kyrgyz authorities "to ensure that the freedoms of expression and association are protected in line with international human rights law and standards."

The statement concludes, "We urge a review of this draft law to ensure that it does not restrict the important work of civil society organizations in the country."

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