Christoph Strässer, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, has just returned from a brief visit to the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, where he attended a regional seminar on German human rights policies organised by the Federal Foreign Office.
Discussion on human rights work in Central Asia
During the three-day seminar, human rights officers from the German Embassies in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia, and representatives of the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin, discussed the goals and key issues of human rights work in Central Asia, as well as the obstacles facing this work. The participants shared examples of best practice, compared developments in the countries, and explored the implementability of various strategies .
The Human Rights Commissioner’s visit programme also included talks with representatives of the Kyrgyz Republic. As parliamentary elections recently took place, and parliament has not yet been formed, Strässer was not yet able to meet members of parliament. However, he held talks with Mira Karabayeva, Head of the Department for Minorities and Religious Policy and Cooperation with the Civilian Population in the President’s Office, Aida Mambetova, Head of Department in the Administration of the Parliament, and Kubat Kuseinov, Head of Administration at the Office of the Ombudsman.
Concern about draft legislation
Strässer expressed his concern about several bills, including a bill on religion, which could prevent the work of smaller religious groups, and a bill that would restrict LGBTI activists’ freedom of expression. He also raised the topic of a bill that would impede the work of Kyrgyz and international NGOs.
The Kyrgyz side expressed interest in working with German experts on the topics of religion, Islam and inter-religious cooperation. When consulted about the recurrent problems in granting work permits to foreign representatives of civil society, the Kyrgyz side promised to lend its support.