The amendments have been passed to President Rahmon, who can ratify them or send them back to the parliament for modification, according to the parliament’s websiteExternal link.
“The proposed amendments to Tajikistan’s administrative code are a clear license for authorities to expand censorship efforts in the name of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Gulnoza Said. “President Emomali Rahmon should not approve the proposed legislative amendments and should stop this crackdown on the press and social media.”
Individuals convicted under the proposed measures could be fined 580 to 1,160 somoni ($56-112), and legal entities such as news outlets could be fined 8,700-11,600 somoni ($844-1,124), according to External linka reportExternal link by the Tajik-language service of the U.S. Congress-funded broadcaster Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Nuriddin Qarshiboev, the head of the National Association of the Independent Mass Media of Tajikistan, a local trade group, told CPJ over the phone that the amendments were “a repressive step that will limit freedom of receiving and spreading information” and said the vague phrasing could empower authorities to crack down on the press in the run-up to the country’s presidential elections later this year.
CPJ emailed the parliamentary and presidential press offices for comment, but did not receive any responses.