Tajikistan suspends accreditation of six radio journalists

New York, November 28, 2016―Tajik authorities should immediately reinstate the accreditation of six radio journalists suspended following a broadcaster’s refusal to remove a story from its website, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

The Tajik Foreign Ministry on November 25 suspended the accreditation of six Dushanbe-based correspondents for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)’s Tajik service following the broadcaster’s refusal to remove from its website a report on the appointment of the Tajik president’s daughter to a senior Foreign Ministry position, according to the U.S.-government-funded broadcaster. RFE/RL’s Tajik service, locally known as Radio Ozodi, the same day reported that Rukhshona Rahmonova, President Emomali Rahmon’s daughter, had been appointed as a deputy head of a department of the Foreign Ministry, based on confirmation from a ministry official and the ministry’s website. Similar reports appeared in local and regional media outlets.

RFE/RL reported that soon after their story ran, a ministry official phoned the Tajik service to request that it be removed from the broadcaster’s website. The official threatened to revoke journalists’ accreditation if the broadcaster did not comply. When the station stood by its reporting, six correspondents were summoned to the Foreign Ministry and were informed that their accreditation was suspended. No formal explanation was given, the broadcaster reported. RFE/RL said the six correspondents ― Mirzonabi Kholikzod, Mardoni Muhammad, Abdulloh Ashurov, Muhammadvafo Rakhmatov, Amriddin Olimov and Shodmoni Yatim ― did not work on the report that displeased the ministry. The suspension of their accreditation means that they cannot legally work as journalists in Tajikistan.

“Barring journalists from doing their work as retaliation for their employers’ publication of a news item will not bury the news, but will call further attention to it,” CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney said. “We call on the Tajik Foreign Ministry to reinstate the accreditation of the six RFE/RL journalists immediately and to cease interfering with the media’s ability to report events.”

This is the second time in recent weeks that Tajik authorities have asked the broadcaster to censor reports on its website, which has been blocked in Tajikistan since 2015, RFE/RL’s director of communications told the Moscow-based, regional news website Fergana today. On November 2, officials demanded that the station remove a news story on the U.S. State Department’s warning to U.S. citizens about travel to the country because of potential terrorist threats.