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Defamation to remain criminal charge in Kazakhstan and 27 European countries: no freedom of speech for Kazakhstan only? 14 января 2014, 20:51

Defamation is expected to remain a criminal charge in the revised Criminal Code of Kazakhstan.
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Johan Merkel. Photo a courtesy of Tengrinews Johan Merkel. Photo a courtesy of Tengrinews
Defamation is expected to remain a criminal charge in the revised Criminal Code of Kazakhstan, Tengrinews reports, citing First Deputy Prosecutor General of Kazakhstan Iogan Merkel. During discussion of the new draft Criminal Code Merkel brought up letters from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the European Union (EU) calling to abolish the defamation law in Kazakhstan. However the Prosecutor General’s Office does not want to make a rushed decision concerning decriminalization of defamation, which includes slander and libel. Upon receiving the letters, the Prosecutor General’s Office conducted a thorough analysis of Criminal Codes of the European Union countries and found that 27 countries including France, Germany, Italy and the UK, consider defamation a criminal charge. “At one of the round table discussions I suggested that Europe should make up its mind first, then we will study their experience and make a decision with our country’s best interests in mind,” Merkel said. Back in 2006, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) tried to stir up some discussion of the freedom of speech and decriminalization of defamation. The international public was watching the situation in Kazakhstan calling for decriminalization of defamation, but was not satisfied with the amendments made in 2011. In March 2013, The Article 19's Law Programme recommend removing all the provisions concerning criminal defamation from the new draft Criminal Code calling them non-compliant with the international law. In 2013, Tamara Kaleyeva, president of Adil Soz social foundation, made a legislative proposal to decriminalize defamation. The General Prosecutor's Office replied that decriminalization of defamation will do nothing to improve the freedom of expression, but will cause a surge of vicious attacks on the Kazakh citizens. The hopes for decriminalization of defamation are not lost for those who hope for it, but it does not look like any dramatic changes are forthcoming in the new Criminal Code. The lower chamber of the Parliament will revise the Draft Criminal Code on January 29.

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