DISTURBING TRENDS FOR FREE EXPRESSION
It finds that Uzbekistan remains by far the region's worst violator of free expression. Conditions have deteriorated since the massacre of civilians in Andijan by government troops in 2005.
The government routinely blocks access to websites belonging to opposition parties and international organisations, and foreign journalists are routinely denied accreditation. A recently adopted media law requires all online media outlets to register with the authorities and submit work plans and reports each month to the ministry of information.
In Kazakhstan, the government is tightening its grip on freedom of expression by passing more stringent laws under the guise of national security. In 2006, it passed seven laws, Adil Soz notes. These laws increased state control over media outlets and tightened media registration regulations.
Meanwhile, an increasing number of criminal and civil lawsuits are being filed against individuals accused of insulting government officials, says Adil Soz. Most of the lawsuits are filed by government officials and private companies.
Of the countries surveyed, Kyrgyzstan has the freest press. However, an increasing number of journalists are being attacked, according to Adil Soz. In Tajikistan, the government imposes bureaucratic barriers on the media, such as stringent registration requirements. Media outlets can also be suspended without a court order.
The only Central Asian country not surveyed - Turkmenistan - is in the midst of a political transition, following the sudden death of long-time dictator Saparmurat Niyazov.
Freedom House rates the country as having one of the eight worst records in the world in terms of political rights and civil liberties. Under Niyazov, all political opposition was banned. The media and the Internet were tightly controlled, and freedoms of expression, assembly and association severely restricted.
Human Rights Watch says large numbers of people are thought to be blacklisted and banned from leaving the country, and the government denies entry to foreign journalists and human rights defenders.
Visit these links:
- Adil Soz Report via IFEX: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/81160/
- Adil Soz: http://www.adilsoz.kz/
- Freedom House: http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=70&release=454
- Human Rights Watch: http://hrw.org/english/docs/2007/02/08/turkme15285.htm