Ottawa Should Raise Press-Freedom Issues with Kazakhstani President: CJFE

Tuesday, June 24, 2003
The federal government should raise the issue of free expression in Kazakhstan during the visit this week to Canada by Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) said today. "Kazakhstan has been brutally repressive in its treatment of journalists and others who seek to report the truth," CJFE Executive Director Joel Ruimy said on the occasion of Nazarbayev's visit. "We call on Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham to tell President Nazarbayev that Canadians want him to end his government's attacks on journalists." CJFE is especially concerned with the case of Sergei Duvanov, one of the best-known and most outspoken journalists in Kazakhstan, recently sentenced to 3½ years in prison on what many say was a fabricated sexual-assault case. On Feb. 14, 2003, the European Union declared the Nazarbayev régime guilty of violating OSCE standards because it denied Duvanov a fair trial. A growing number of human-rights groups, including CJFE, have expressed the view that the prosecution of this questionable case was flawed. "We understand that Ottawa is playing down this visit and that there will be no public appearances by the President in the National Capital," Ruimy said. "We think this is appropriate in view of his record on press freedom. "But a good next step would be for the federal government to tell President Nazarbayev that his régime's abuse of the free-expression rights of its citizens is odious to all Canadians." CJFE is an association of 400 journalists, editors, producers, publishers and citizens working to promote free expression and media freedom in Canada and around the world. For more information, please contact Joel Ruimy at (416) 515-9622 or at [email protected]

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