21 May 2012During the last five years, Kazakhstan formed a draft law on freedom of information. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have already adopted such laws. In this connection in May 2012, UNESCO conducted a series of seminars for editors of print media with the goal of training citizens on how to protect their right to information. The trainings are relevant and necessary in that the new laws do not fully secure the right of citizens to information – retaining the culture of secrecy in government bodies. Accordingly, it is difficult to challenge the failure to provide information during pre-trial procedures, to receive a list of secrets, and to share information of public interest without penalty or punishment.
In this connection, in Almaty and Dushanbe, from 21 to 23 May 2012, two three-day workshops were conducted for chief editors of print media from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
The workshops were organized by the International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech “Adil Soz,” as part of the project called "The Promotion of Professional Capacities of Chief Editors of Central Asian Print Media on the Freedom of Information,” which is supported through UNESCO’s International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC) and coordinated by UNESCO Almaty Office.
The workshops included the following topics: on citizens receiving access to information under state control; on analyzing national laws based on international principles of freedom of information; and on writing formal requests to government bodies. A number of practical exercises on realizing the citizens’ right to information were also conducted. UNESCO's Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media and IPDC's Media Development Indicators were used for developing the seminars’ program and inviting participants. For preparing the training materials, UNESCO's Communication and Information publications as well as ARTICLE 19's guidelines on freedom of information were used. After the trainings were conducted, articles were published in the local press.