OSCE urges Tajikistan to stop attacks on free media

Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:21pm GMT

By Roman Kozhevnikov

DUSHANBE (Reuters) - Europe's main human rights and security body, the OSCE, criticised Tajikistan on Monday over its maltreatment of independent media and urged it to improve its record.

Since September 29, several Tajik and foreign news websites have been inaccessible in the Central Asian nation, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said in a statement.

A number of independent newspapers and printing houses had been subjected to tax inspections, after which the printing houses refused to print a number of independent newspapers, citing technical reasons, the OSCE said.

"The practices of blocking websites, preventing newspapers from printing and launching tax or prosecutorial inspections ... are serious non-compliance with Tajikistan's OSCE media freedom commitments," senior OSCE official Dunja Mijatovic told Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi in a letter.

Mijatovic, the OSCE's representative on freedom of the media, urged the Tajik authorities to recognise the importance of media pluralism and "reverse the ongoing deterioration of the media freedom situation in Tajikistan."

Foreign Ministry spokesman Davlatali Nazriyev said the Tajik authorities had received the OSCE letter but denied the charges.

"I daresay, Internet sites are not mass media, according to legislation," he told Reuters. "This is not only our legislation that states this, but also the legislation of countries in Europe," he added.

"As for newspapers, no newspapers were shut down, while the suspension of some of them is due to purely technical problems."   Continued...

Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.