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Call for improvements to draft mass media law

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - Dushanbe 22.06.11: Today, ARTICLE 19 released the analysis on the Draft Law on Mass Media of Tajikistan that assesses the law for its compliance with international standards on freedom of expression and offers detailed recommendations on how it should be improved. ARTICLE 19 calls on the Tajikistan Parliament to incorporate the comments in the final version of the law.

"ARTICLE 19 welcomes the efforts of the Tajik Government to amend the media law. The current text, however, needs significant revision to comply with international freedom of expression standards," said Dr Agnes Callamard, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.

The Draft Law intends to replace the current 1990 Law on Press and Other Mass Media that ARTICLE 19 has repeatedly criticised. It is intended to establish the legal framework of mass media governance and activities, in addition to regulating the relations between the State and the media.

In its analysis, ARTICLE 19 highlights that the Draft Law contains a number of positive features, including a proclamation of mass media freedom, a ban on censorship and persecution for criticism, protection of the rights of journalists and a rule requiring provisions in the Media Law to comply with international treaties applicable to Tajikistan.

ARTICLE 19 also comments positively on the fact that regulation of Internet-based media and social media are outside the scope of the draft Law. Although online media may be subject to regulation, its unique features require bloggers and internet users be excluded from of the regime of regulation in force for traditional media.

At the same time, ARTICLE 19 finds that the Draft Law includes a number of provisions which are in breach of international free speech standards and other provisions which, while not necessarily formally in breach of international law, are unnecessary or could be improved.

These include the obligation to register mass media with administrative bodies, several overbroad restrictions on media freedom, weak provisions on protection of journalistic sources, restrictive provisions on right to information and problematic provisions on journalists' "responsibilities".

Read ARTICLE 19's analysis:
tajikistan_comment_on_draft_mass_media_law.pdf (437 KB)

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