OSCE, Vienna, 2 Feb 2010 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklos Haraszti, said today that he was deeply concerned by the continuing harassment of journalists in Uzbekistan.
“In spite of the constructive dialogue that has been developing between my Office and the Uzbek authorities, there has been no improvement in Uzbekistan’s press freedom situation,” Haraszti wrote in a letter sent yesterday to Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov.
“As recent developments show, arrests of journalists and other forms of harassment are still taking place in violation of OSCE media freedom commitments.”
In his letter, Haraszti cited the case of two jailed journalists and pointed to recently initiated criminal procedures that “punish and threaten Uzbekistan’s few independent voices”.
“As of today, journalists Salidzhon Abdurakhmanov and Dilmurod Saiid remain behind bars, serving harsh sentences. Both were convicted on dubious charges in closed trials,” he wrote.
Abdurakhmanov, a contributor to Uznews.net and a former RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service correspondent, was convicted to 10 years in jail on drug possession charges in October 2008. Saiid, a correspondent for the Central Asian Voice of Freedom website, was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison on extortion and forgery charges.
“I am saddened that the repeated assurances given by Uzbek authorities that both cases will be re-examined did not translate into action,” Haraszti said.
Haraszti also raised the cases of two journalists who were prosecuted in January: Khairullo Khamidov, the deputy editor-in-chief of the Champion sports newspaper, who was arrested and charged with violating legislation on religious associations, and Umida Akhmedova, a photojournalist who was indicted for defaming the Uzbek people and its traditions in a book of photographs and a documentary film.
“The Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media will continue to monitor the fate of Saiid, Abdurakhmanov, Khamidov and Akhmedova. I call on the Uzbek government to act in line with OSCE media freedom standards,” Haraszti said.Number of View: 512