In recent years, freedom of expression in Central Asia has become increasingly restricted. The global pandemic further underscored the important role the internet and digital platforms play in supporting human rights movements and access to information. In this context, it is clear that autocratic regimes are repeatedly cracking down on the internet in order to quell activism in the region.
Governments in Central Asia have adopted a series of controversial laws allowing them to exert further control over online content and abuse existing legislation to force their critics into self-censorship. Vague provisions that criminalise insult or inciting hatred are weaponised to jail individuals for as little as a social media post. Journalists face legal action due to their critical coverage of the ruling political elite. Access to online resources including independent media outlets is regularly blocked without explanation or justification.
Meanwhile, all dissenting voices risk persecution often based on over-broad terrorism and extremism legislations that do not meet international standards.
Governments have put forward a multi-pronged strategy to impose rigid regulation on online environment which deepens the chilling effect on free expression in Central Asia.
On this page, you can find ARTICLE 19’s work analysing these growing challenges and advocating for robust protection of free expression online in the region.