Journalists, civil society and the international community report an increase in ‘hate speech’ in Kyrgyzstan. This has been particularly visible in the form of online harassment and abuse against , however civil society representatives, lawyers and political candidates have also been targeted. In addition, legislation in Kyrgyzstan which makes reference to ‘hate speech’ does not uphold international freedom of expression standards and provides for disproportionate sanctions.

#ChallengeHate is ARTICLE 19’s campaign as part of the Media Dialogue project in Kyrgyzstan to raise awareness of the international standards relevant to ‘hate speech’ and how these can be used to identify and challenge ‘hate speech’ through positive measures.

Media Dialogue, funded by the European Union, is implemented by a consortium of five organisations led by The European Partnership for Democracy: ARTICLE 19, Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Media Policy Institute, ALDA – European Association for Local Democracy.

The Facts

Hate Speech in Kyrgyzstan

Over the past few years hate speech in Kyrgyzstan has been seen to increase. Targets have included media, especially investigative reporters, civil society, lawyers and politicians. At the same time, legislation which exists to address illegal hate speech is in violation of international freedom of expression standards.

Hate speech is harmful to individuals and societies

Hate speech targets people because of who they are. Such speech can also incite people to violence and cause physical and psychological harm to those whom the speech is against. Incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence is unacceptable and must be restricted.

State responses to hate speech

Governments must prohibit advocacy of discriminatory hatred which constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence and actively challenge hate speech. However, any restrictions should be provided for by law, be clearly necessary to protect people from discrimination and discriminatory violence, and be proportionate.

We can best counter hate speech with more speech

Simply banning hate speech does not address why people use it e.g. the root causes of this negative phenomenon. Broad and vague bans on hate speech can easily be used to stifle and punish dissent or criticism of the government. Ultimately, we can most effectively challenge hate speech with more speech

Hate speech is harmful. Here is what you can do to challenge it

Understand the different categories of hate speech

Reflect critically on how fear, ignorance, discrimination, or scapegoating can cause hate speech and increase inequality and harm others.

Distinguish between dissent (criticism of governments) and hate speech

Identify what speech may be restricted

What is hate speech?

Explore #ChallengeHate, ARTICLE 19’s website in Kyrgyz and Russian to define Hate Speech, understand who the targets of hate speech are, and learn about the different categories of hate speech.

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Thinking critically about hate

Reflect on what causes hate and hate speech, the difference between stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination, and how the media and politicians have a responsibility to avoid scapegoating and dehumanising individuals and communities.

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What if your government treats criticism as hate speech

Can criticism of governments, policies, religion or flags ever be classified as “hate speech”? Consider the crucial role dissent plays in holding our governments accountable and achieving a healthy democracy.

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When can the Right to Freedom of Expression be restricted?

Because Freedom of Expression is the lifeline of a democracy, any restrictions on hate speech must always be clearly defined.  Learn how to categorise hate speech according to its severity and take our 3-part and 6-part test to identify what hate speech should be restricted.

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How can we challenge hate?

Can censoring hate speech ever genuinely stop hate? Or do we need more education, debate, and pluralistic media to build resilience and protect each other. Discover what your government must do, what the media is responsible for and what practical steps you can take to model good behaviour and call out hate when you see it.

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Disclaimer

This publication has been produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Media Dialogue project and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.

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