1 September 2004
Laws restrict freedom of expression and information, says ARTICLE 19
(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is an ARTICLE 19 press release:
UZBEK LAWS RESTRICT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND INFORMATION
ARTICLE 19 has published three Memoranda analysing Uzbekistan's laws on: "Mass Media", "Principles of and Guarantees for Freedom of Information" and "Protection of the State Secrets" (1). As the Memoranda make clear, these laws are in need of urgent and far-reaching reform. This has been highlighted, for example, by the widespread use of the registration regime created by the law on Mass Media to censor or to shut down altogether newspapers and other publications which have been disseminating information of public interest of which the government disapproves.
Serious concerns identified by these Memoranda include that:
- the law on Mass Media imposes an onerous registration system, supervised by a body which is not independent of government;
- that same law improperly imposes content restrictions on mass media whose result is potentially to restrict a wide range of expression protected under international law;
- the freedom of information law contains an extremely overbroad regime of exceptions, pursuant to which much information held by public bodies which is of clear public importance could be withheld; and
- the above is exacerbated by the State secrets law, which permits the classification and protection of virtually any information whatsoever.
ARTICLE 19 urges the authorities in Uzbekistan to undertake an urgent review of these laws with a view to bringing them in line with international guarantees of freedom of expression.
1. The Memoranda (English) are available, respectively, on the ARTICLE 19 website at:http://www.article19.org/ViewArticle.asp?AreaID=32&SubAreaID=97&PageID=144&ElementID=70&ArticleID=1737&Comment=,
The Russian versions are also available, respectively, at:http://www.article19.org/docimages/1840.doc,