In his speech, available on the parliament’s Web site, Karimov, at left, said the legislative body should strengthen its control over the executive branch of the government, and added that the success of this process largely depends on “active participation of mass media.”
"Big and responsible tasks are yet to be undertaken by the party press, which we have to pitifully admit, continues to remain toothless,” Karimov said to the lawmakers.
According to Ferghana, the Uzbek leader also told legislators they should “create new conditions for more active reporting by Uzbek media of national and foreign policies implemented by the Uzbek government.” He also stressed that journalists should be awarded better compensation for their work, and said freedom and responsibility should be increased for news outlets.
Those not familiar with press freedom conditions in
There are absolutely no independent media outlets in
According to CPJ’s
prison census, which is released annually on December 1, Karimov’s regime persistently
jailed journalists in the recent decade. With at least seven journalists behind bars for
their work in
Among the jailed journalists is the Uzbek president’s own nephew, Dzhamshid Karimov, who has been locked in psychiatric clinic without a court order or known medical diagnosis since 2006. We have repeatedly appealed to the Uzbek president urging him to release the journalists, but to no avail. Local sources told CPJ the journalist’s relationship to the authoritarian leader prevents local lawyers from taking the case to court.
Uzbek authorities are also infamous for harassing those few
independent reporters and rights activists who have dared to stay in the
country. Recently, CPJ covered the illegal interrogation
and harassment of independent journalists by prosecutors in the capital,
Last month, we also reported on an absurd criminal libel case that Uzbek authorities filed against a prominent filmmaker and photographer, Umida Akhmedova, who allegedly slandered the nation and its traditions through her work.
Our research indicates that security agents pre-screen all newspaper articles before they reach the printer. The agents have to make sure nothing poses a threat to the regime of authoritarian leader, whose family and personality receive only praise from the loyal national press. In neighboring Kyrgyzstan, colleagues of Alisher Saipov—a Kyrgyz journalist who covered human rights abuse in Karimov’s Uzbekistan and was murdered there in 2007—believe the Uzbek security service was involved in his slaying. Unsolved to this day, Saipov’s murder sent a chill throughout the region, reaching all of Karimov’s critics.
These are only a few examples of the egregious lack of press
Karimov was right, the Uzbek press is “toothless” at large and needs reform, but as the sole driver of his regime, he should remove his government’s yoke from the necks of journalists. It will take years to undo the damage that has been inflicted on the independent press, but change is possible. As a first step, the Uzbek authorities should release the many journalists they are holding behind bars.