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Kyrgyz Cop Law Proves Controversial

Concerns have been about a new policing bill that some fear will erode civil rights, Eleonora Mambetshakirova reports.
By IWPR Central Asia
Human rights activists are concerned that the law will invest the police for with extra powers, and say they are already concerned about the behaviour of law-enforcement officers, for instance in enforcing a ban on demonstrations in the capital Bishkek despite the constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech and assembly.

Other areas of concern in the draft law include provisions allowing police to automatically detain anyone not carrying ID, and to commandeer private private vehicles when they see a need to do so.

Lawyer Nurbek Toktakunov says the bill must not be passed in its present form as it has too many failings and is in party contradictory.

The legislation also has its supporters, who say it will be good for law and order. Shamshibek Mamyrov from the interior ministry’s research office, says people have no reason to worry. The current law governing the police dates from 1994, and needs to be updated.

In any case, he says many of the holes in the law identified by critics will be filled by supporting acts and regulations.

“If we were to put every single point of detail into the bill, it would end up with over a thousand pages – you couldn’t have a law like that,” he said.

Mamyrov says the police force is already evolving to become more transparent, for example in dealing with complaints.

The bill is due to be put out to a process of public consultation at the end of this month.

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