Kyrgyzstan: Civil society under threat as President Japarov signs repressive “foreign representatives” law

On April 2, 2024, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov signed the Russia-inspired “foreign representatives” law targeting foreign-funded non-profit and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT), Bir Duino, and the Coalition for Equality strongly condemn the adoption of this stigmatising and repressive legisation, and call on the international community to take all political, diplomatic and economic measures at their disposal to prompt the Kyrgyz authorities to repeal the law.

Paris-Geneva, April 5, 2024. Despite grave concerns raised by Kyrgyz and international NGOs, international organisations and States governments, on April 2, 2024, Kyrgyz President Sadyr Japarov signed the “foreign representatives” law, which will enter into force ten days after its official publication. While Japarov declared, in a Facebook post, that “there will be no persecution” of foreign-funded NGOs in Kyrgyzstan, the law stigmatises and tightens control over human right organisations, requiring them to register as "foreign representatives" and to label all their materials as "produced, distributed and (or) sent by a non-commercial organisation performing the functions of a foreign representative". The law also unduly expands the government’s oversight over NGOs receiving foreign funding, subjecting them to heavy reporting requirements, financial monitoring, and unscheduled inspections. If organisations fail to comply with these requirements, their activities can be suspended, and the organisation can be liquidated.

On March 14, 2024, the Jogorku Kenesh (Parliament of Kyrgyzstan) adopted the corresponding draft law in its third reading without holding any debate or dicussion. The law mirrors the notorious Russian “foreign agent” legislation first introduced in 2012 and made increasingly repressive through successive amendments, which led to a severe crackdown on human rights defenders in Russia, forcing many of them to cease their activities or to flee the country.

With Georgia’s ruling party announcing the re-introduction of a similar draft law, only one day after the adoption of the Kyrgyz “foreign representatives” law, the signatory organisations note with concern that the adoption of “foreign agent” style legislations in Eastern Europe and Central Asia is a highly worrying trend.

The Observatory, Bir Duino, and the Coalition for Equality deeply regret the adoption of the new “foreign representatives” law in Kyrgyzstan, and call on the Kyrgyz authorities to guarantee the right to freedom of association, as enshrined in several international human rights documents, including Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This right includes the obligation of States to refrain from adopting legislation or practices that interfere with the right to effectively seek, receive and use domestic, foreign or international financial resources.

The signatory organisations urge the international community to take a firm stand in solidarity with Kyrgyz human rights defenders, to urge the Kyrgyz authorities, bilaterally and in multilateral fora, to repeal the “foreign representatives” law, and to guarantee the right to freedom of association in the country, using all available political, diplomatic and economic means at their disposal.


  • The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the International Federation for Human rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
  • Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan was created to promote civil, political, cultural and economic rights and other social useful objectives, using monitoring and analysis tools for human rights evaluation in Kyrgyzstan. To achieve the goal of creating an effective monitoring system, targeted at human rights evaluation, BDK seeks to increase civil participation among youth and marginalised groups of population using the existing frameworks laid out by the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic.
  • The Coalition for Equality in the Kyrgyz Republic is an informal association of civil society organisations, legal entities and individuals established on a voluntary basis to promote cooperation and collaboration in the field of human rights, against all forms of discrimination and for equal rights in Kyrgyzstan. The Coalition unites the efforts of civil society to promote the principles of equality and non-discrimination.