Freedom of the Press

Tajikistan

Tajikistan

Freedom of the Press 2007

2007 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

76

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

28

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

24

Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the constitution, but government efforts to reduce the media to docility in 2004 and 2005 proved largely successful. Nonetheless, Tajikistan’s media environment remained relatively stable in 2006, despite a court’s decision to suspend the country’s Union of Journalists from April through July—arguing that its charter violated Tajik law. Existing laws criminalize insults to individuals’ dignity and set five-year prison terms for public criticism of the president; several dozen additional press restrictions were passed by the Parliament over the course of the year, including one that required all private media outlets to obtain licenses from the Ministry of Culture.

There were no reports of violence against journalists in 2006, although the murders of 29 journalists during the 1992–1997 civil war remain unsolved. The independent newspaper Nerui Sukhan remained closed, but the Supreme Court in January substituted a fine for the two-year corrective labor sentence that its editor in chief, Mukhtor Boqizoda, had received in 2005 for illegal use of electricity at his printing facility. Adolat, a weekly opposition newspaper published by the Democratic Party of Tajikistan, briefly resumed publication in September after a two-year hiatus but vanished in October when the Shafei publishing house refused to print it. Adolat editor in chief Rajab Mirzo managed to publish another edition of the paper on October 12, but faced a rival publication with the same name issued by a government-supported faction of the Democratic Party. Furthermore, two journalists investigating the use of forced labor in the cotton industry were detained briefly in September. In November, President Emomali Rakhmonov secured reelection in a presidential election. All major broadcast and print media, controlled either directly or indirectly by the state, provided favorable coverage of Rakhmonov, while virtually ignoring the four other opposition candidates, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

The dominant feature of Tajikistan’s media environment remained state control over nationwide broadcast media from which most citizens get theirs news. The state maintains its control, even of the newspaper industry, through direct and indirect ownership, licensing requirements, control of printing and transmission facilities, and subsidies. The government maintained a near freeze on the registration of new media outlets, but two fledgling newspapers with political content were registered in 2006. International media had generally been allowed to operate freely, and rebroadcasts of Russian television and radio programs are reportedly available. However, many foreign broadcasts could be accessed only via satellite, and few Tajiks could afford such technology. In January, FM radio broadcasts by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) were suspended in a dispute with the authorities over registration requirements. The government eventually denied the BBC a license for FM broadcasting in the capital city, Dushanbe, as well as in the northern city of Khujand, citing the lack of a broadcasting cooperation agreement between the British and Tajik governments. Internet services were limited to only one-tenth of one percent of the population. According to a letter obtained by Reuters, authorities asked Tajik internet providers to block websites that “aim to undermine the state’s policies in the sphere of information,” in the lead-up to the November election. Access to centrasia.ru, arianastorm.com, charogiruz.ru, ferghana.ru, and tajikistantimes.ru, which all feature material critical of Rakhmonov, was temporarily blocked in 2006 for a few days, but Tajik officials attributed the shutdown to maintenance issues.