Court shuts Internews ahead of parliamentary elections

New York, September 14, 2004—A court in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent shut the media training organization Internews-Uzbekistan yesterday for six months for violating a law regulating non-governmental organizations, according to local and international press reports.

The closure comes amid a broad government crackdown on the independent media and non-governmental organizations ahead of parliamentary elections in December. It also follows an Internews-Uzbekistan project documenting government press abuses.

Internews said it corrected the infractions, which involved such things as failure to register a logo. The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the government’s action.

“Shutting down Internews-Uzbekistan for such technical violations is a thinly veiled attempt to stifle criticism of the government as elections approach,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said.

The Justice Ministry filed a request to close the organization with the Tashkent City Civil Court on September 3, claiming that Internews-Uzbekistan failed to correct several infractions found during a June inspection, according to local press reports.

The ministry reported that Internews-Uzbekistan, along with not registering its logo, failed to inform authorities of activities conducted outside the capital, a change of address, and the correct number of board members.

“We submitted corrected documents to the Justice Ministry in time and the submission of the documents was registered,” Internews-Uzbekistan Executive Director Khalida Anarbaeva told the United Nations IRIN news service. “But, replying to the court’s demand, the ministry said that they had received no documents from us.”

In September 2003, Internews-Uzbekistan initiated a U.S.-funded project to monitor countrywide government abuses against the press. (To see its latest report, see:

The U.S. Department of State announced in July that it was withholding millions of dollars in aid to Uzbekistan because of the government’s human rights abuses.