Workshop with parliamentarians in Bishkek
Kyrgyzstan is facing challenges when it comes to fundamental human rights like freedom of religion or belief. The Oslo Center and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee wish to raise awareness of the importance of human rights obligations.
The Oslo Center, together with the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, held a workshop for parliamentarians in Bishkek earlier this spring. The workshop was organized together with the Deputy Speaker of the Parliament, Mrs. Asya Sasykbaeva, and focused on international human rights instruments and important elements of a well-functioning democratic state.
International human rights
Topics of the first day of the workshop was introduction to human rights, including freedom of religion or belief, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, as well as the issue of how international conventions influence national legislation and the work of parliamentarians when they are drafting new laws. The second day started with a session on minority rights, primarily focusing on ethnic/national and religious minorities, while the rest of the day was devoted to presentations on a functioning government, parliament and opposition, the Norwegian Ombudsperson as well as the Norwegian model of inter-faith dialogue and cooperation that has been developed over the last 20 years. The necessity of developing a strong cooperation between the state and the civil society, and how such cooperation can provide ‘soft security’ in a society, was also emphasized.
The workshop was attended by parliamentarians, experts and advisors working in the parliament. There were plenty of discussions during the two days, in particular on the issue of religion and its place in the Kyrgyz society, as well as what many described as merging security concerns due to potential violent groups in the country. Other topics that caused lively discussions was the issue of inconsistencies in the national legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic with regards to international human rights obligations, the rights of sexual minorities, as well as freedom of speech and ethical standards for what is acceptable journalism.