Kazakhstan’s President Signs Controversial Media Law

President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Photo: AFP

Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Thursday signed into law controversial amendments to media regulations despite concern that the new legislation will further limit freedom of speech in the tightly-controlled nation.

Mr. Nazarbayev went ahead with the amendments “aimed at improving legislation on information and communication issues,” his office said.

Among the changes that have alarmed journalists and civil rights activists was one demanding news websites identify users posting comments under articles and retain their data for a period of three months.

Another controversial amendment obliges journalists to receive permission from persons mentioned in their articles to publish information that could be classified as “personal, family, medical, banking, commercial and other legally protected secrets.”

Kazakhstan-based media rights group Adil Soz this month called the new legislation “a law to protect corrupt officials” that makes media “defenceless against baseless accusations.”

Kazakhstan’s government had journalists and civil activists involved in discussion of the law but ultimately ignored key objections.

The law earlier sailed through both houses in Kazakhstan’s parliament.