Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
The government frequently restricts constitutional guarantees of freedom of the press. While the overall media environment did not register significant changes in Tajikistan in 2004, a government campaign against opposition newspapers-part of an effort to consolidate power in the run-up to the 2005 parliamentary elections-cast a pall over the press. There were several instances in which independent journalists were denied access to information and libel laws were used against critical media outlets. On February 28, President Emomali Rahmonov signed a law on broadcasting, which required licenses to produce television programs; Internews later alleged that the authorities applied the law retroactively, objecting to "unlicensed" programs produced before the law went into effect, and a local media watchdog noted in October that the government had not yet established new procedures for granting the necessary licenses.
State-controlled broadcast media continue to dominate the airwaves, providing coverage generally favorable to the authorities. There is one state-run television network, and opposition politicians have very limited access to state-controlled media. On a number of occasions in 2004, journalists were subject to government harassment and intimidation. Journalist Mavluda Sultanzoda was threatened repeatedly after writing critical articles in Ruzi Nav about Dushanbe mayor Mahmadsaid Ubaydullayev and in August publishing an article that questioned the record of President Rahmonov. Rajab Mirzo, editor in chief of Ruzi Nav, was assaulted in January and badly beaten on July 29.
The government controls most printing presses, broadcasting facilities, and (through government subsidies) major publications and broadcasting productions. On August 19, tax police shut down the printing house Jiyonkhon, which printed a number of newspapers, most notably Nerui Sukhan and Ruzi Nav, Tajikistan's best-known independent weeklies. Both newspapers had previously roused the ire of authorities. Prosecutors warned Ruzi Nav in January, and Nerui Sukhan in June, to refrain from printing articles insulting to President Rahmonov. After the closure of Jiyonkhon, the two newspapers and other independent publications continued to experience difficulty finding printing facilities amid various forms of harassment from tax authorities. When the staff of Ruzi Nav had an issue of the newspaper printed in neighboring Kyrgyzstan in November, tax police impounded the print run at the airport in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe after a search conducted on flimsy legal pretexts. The state was also able to use Sharqi Ozod, a state-controlled printing house, as a mechanism of control; after tax police shuttered the Jiyonkhon printing house, Sharqi Ozod found various pretexts to turn away the independent weeklies that had been printed at Jiyonkhon. The Internet, though left free, is a negligible factor in a mountainous, impoverished country with a low percentage of users.