Kyrgyzstan: The Supreme Court overturns the decision of the lower court designating Reports of Bir Duino and ADC “Memorial” as “Extremist”

This press-release has been published by FIDH. You can access the original article here.

On October 22, the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan granted the petition of Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan challenging the lower court’s designation of reports by Bir Duino and Anti-Discrimination Centre (ADC) “Memorial” as “extremist” and banning the activities of ADC “Memorial”. 

During the hearing, presided by judges Mr. Bolotbek Batyraliev, Ms. Dilara Arstanbaeva and Mr. Zhumagulov Pamiridin, Chairman, the Supreme Court Council of Judges for the Civil Section considered the petition of Ms. Tolekan Ismailova, Director of Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan, requesting the reinstatement of the appeals period to challenge the January 5, 2017, decision of the Oktyabrski District Court of Bishkek.

In its decision issued on January 5, 2017, the Oktyabrski District Court had declared a report submitted by ADC "Memorial" and Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers as “extremist material” and subsequently banned all activities of ADC "Memorial" in Kyrgyzstan. 

Bir Duino’s lawyers argued that the Kyrgyz authorities did not notify either ADC "Memorial" or Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan of the lower court’s decision. Thus, the right of the two human rights organisations to defend themselves in court and to appeal the decision within legally established deadlines was violated.

The Supreme Court reinstated the period of appeal for the January 2017 decision and annulled the decision of the Oktyabrski Court in its entirety, thus lifting the “extremist materials” designation at least temporarily and reinstating the right of ADC Memorial to carry out its activities in Kyrgyzstan. The matter was remanded to the Oktyabrski Court for reconsideration.

“Yesterday’s decision by the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan evidences the incipience of the rule of law and independence of the judiciary in Kyrgyzstan”, commented Ms. Tolekan Ismailova, who was present at the hearing. “The practice of power structures, like the offices of the General Prosecutor and the Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security, with the abusive implementation of Article 299 Part 2 of the Penal Code of Kyrgyzstan against independent NGOs, activists, bloggers and ethnic minorities must be abandoned. Bir Duino welcomes the decision of the Supreme Court and congratulates its partners and colleagues in the reinstatement of their rights and good name”, Ismailova concluded.