AKIPRESS.COM - The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, on February 27 said he is concerned about the detention of several journalists and bloggers who were covering rallies in the cities of Almaty, Zhanaozen and Uralsk in Kazakhstan.
“I am concerned about the practice of short detentions of journalists and bloggers, which hinders them in pursuing their professional duties,” Désir said. “Informing the public about social protests and issues of public interest is an important role of journalists - they should not be punished for doing their work.”
On 27 February, blogger Ashat Bersalimov was detained in Almaty; journalist Saniya Toiken of Radio Free Europe’s Azattyq service, and camera operator Sanat Nurbekov were detained and questioned for several hours in Zhanaozen; while blogger Askar Shiygumarov was detained in Uralsk after leaving his house.
Désir noted that the practice of arbitrary detentions of journalists has recently become more frequent in the country, and conveyed his concerns to the authorities.
Toiken was also briefly detained on 12 February while covering a protest in Astana. Several journalists were briefly detained in Almaty in mid-December.
The Representative recalled that the “Special Report on Handling of the Media during Political Demonstrations: Observations and Recommendations” published by his Office, states that “law-enforcement officials have a constitutional responsibility not to prevent or obstruct the work of journalists during public demonstrations, and journalists have a right to expect fair and restrained treatment by the police.”