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RFE/RL Chief Welcomes Kazakh Court Ruling Over Police Inaction in Attack on Its Reporters

RFE/RL President Jamie Fly (Credit: Vesna Andjic - RFE/RL)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has welcomed a Kazakh court ruling that an investigation should continue into the failure of police to act against individuals who attacked the broadcaster's reporters and hindered their professional activities.

The Almaty City Investigative Court on April 15 agreed with a lawsuit filed by Aiman Omarova, a lawyer for RFE/RL, against police and asked for a deeper investigation of the incident.

"We welcome the court's ruling that an investigation should continue into inaction by Kazakh law enforcement during a series of attacks against RFE/RL journalists last year," RFE/RL President Jamie Fly said in a statement on April 17.

"Police inaction, on numerous occasions, abetted physical attacks against our reporters and lent impunity to people who sought to interfere with our reporting and the duties of an independent press. I once again call upon the Kazakh government to take this issue seriously and to prosecute those responsible,” he added.

During mass anti-government rallies in Almaty last March, several unknown people aggressively covered RFE/RL cameras with newspapers and began physically and verbally abusing the broadcaster's reporters.

RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty filed an official request with local police, asking them to identify the attackers and bring them to justice.

Omarova subsequently filed a lawsuit against police, accusing them of inaction when the case failed to develop.

Tamara Kaleyeva, chairwoman of the Adil Soz (A Just Word) group that protects journalists' rights, told RFE/RL on April 15 that reporters in Kazakhstan rarely file lawsuits against police in such cases because "they almost never reach the courts."

Kazakhstan ranked 158th out of 179 countries in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index published by the rights group Reporters Without Borders.