Tajik journalists celebrated the day of freedom of speech by organizing a conference with the slogan: “To maintain freedom of press in Tajikistan.
On May 3, a republican conference titled “Freedom of speech: problems and prospects” was held at the conference hall of the Sheraton Hotel in Dushanbe, which was devoted to the World Press Freedom Day. Over sixty people participated in this conference, including Tajik journalists and representatives of journalists’ associations and human rights organizations, government agencies, international organizations, and diplomatic missions accredited in Tajikistan.
The conference was organized by the Council for Mass Media in Tajikistan, the Independent Association of Mass Media (NANSMIT), Tajikistan Union of Journalists in partnership with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in Tajikistan, with the financial support of the OSCE Office in Tajikistan, Open Society Institute – Assistance Foundation inTajikistan, and the Delegation of the European Commission in Tajikistan.
The participants expressed their concern over the deteriorating situation of freedom of speech in the country. According to the annual report on freedom of the media by the Reporters Without Borders (RWB), the country’s ranking dropped by a whopping 34 positions, putting Tajikistan at 150th place among 180 countries of the world.
In the conference, participants discussed the main problems of the media and journalists in Tajikistan, such as increased pressure from the authorities, becoming the main cause for so many talented journalists to abandon this field, economic problems of the media, the lack of professional journalists, on the one hand; and refusal to provide jobs to journalists, whom the government does not favor, on the other hand, as well as other problems. It was also noted that for the first time in many years, last year around 10 Tajik journalists appealed to Western nations for political asylum because of the increased pressure on the part of the state law enforcement agencies.
In addition, participants discussed the problems in the field of training, use of new technologies in the field of journalism, compliance with ethical standards. It was also noted that the restriction of freedom of the media is becoming one of the factors weakening the information security of the country.
Towards the end, awards were presented to the best journalists and materials.
Institute for War and Peace Reporting in Tajikistan has taken the responsibility to conduct the annual competition for the best journalistic investigation named after Jumaboi Tolibov.
As part of this competition, IWPR in Tajikistan received 18 journalistic investigations by Tajik journalists. Contest judges almost unanimously voted for Malika Fozilova, a young journalist from Panjakent, whose investigation was titled “Why was the road of Aini – Panjakent built not the way the President instructed? Who is going to profit from this construction? “http://cabar.asia/ru/iwpr-tajikistan-charo-ro-i-ajn-pan-akent-az-ruji-gufta-oi-prezident-sokhta-nashud/
The contest was part of the three-year project “Empowering Media and Civil Society Activists to Support Democratic Reforms in Tajikistan”, financed by the European Commission under the European Instrument program to promote democracy and human rights (EIDHR), as well as with the financial support of the Norwegian Government.
The project is aimed at promoting cooperation between the leading civil society activists and the independent media. Its purpose is to increase the capacity of independent media in conducting journalistic investigations and preparing analytical articles, as well as stimulating a constructive dialogue between human rights organizations, the media, local and central authorities to jointly address the primary socio-economic problems of society.