Paris-based media watchdog warns new Tajik legislation hampers coronavirus coverage

1 year ago Web Desk 0

“This new, vaguely defined legislation could be exploited to violate the right to information,” Jeanne Cavelier, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, said in a statement published on June 12.


“Under international law, nothing ever justifies giving a public authority the power to decide what is true or false, or — without reference to a judge — to restrict the right of a person or media to freedom of expression on the grounds that what they say might be false or inaccurate,” Cavalier noted.


“We call for the withdrawal of these amendments, which violate freedom of the press and expression,” she added.


RSF notes that one of first targets of these amendments could be, a website founded by civil society representatives that is keeping a tally of the number of Covid-19 deaths in Tajikistan, a tally verified by journalists based abroad. Its latest tally is 430, as against the official figure of 49. The site has been blocked within Tajikistan since May 11, the statement says.


RSF recommends that the Tajik authorities should combat disinformation by means of self-regulatory mechanisms that promote the best journalists standards and ethics, such as the Journalism Trust Initiative.


Tajikistan is ranked 161st out of 180 countries and territories in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index.


According to official numbers, 5,035 people have contracted the virus in Tajikistan and 50 have died as of the evening of June 14.


Source: Asia Plus