Freedom of expression and the right to information
Assertion: The Governments information policy aims to ensure proper and full observance of the principles of freedom of speech and the right of citizens to information.
The government severely restricts free expression and persecutes independent journalists whose work is critical of the authorities. Following the Andijan events, several journalists were harassed and accused by the government of spreading false information. The indictment of those tried in the Supreme Court leveled accusations against 13 local and foreign journalists. At least one journalist, Nosir Zokirov, who worked for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, was convicted of insulting a security officer and sentenced to six months imprisonment. Other journalists, including Galima Bukharbaeva and Tulkin Karaev, fled the country fearing persecution.
On June 9, 2005, Uzbek authorities pressured BBC Uzbekistan correspondent Monica Whitlock to leave Uzbekistan in retaliation for her work. In October 2005, the BBC suspended its operations in Uzbekistan due to security concerns. On December 13, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty closed its office after its staff members were denied re-accreditation.
Many websites providing critical information on Uzbekistan are blocked by the authorities and are not accessible for people in the country, including www.ferghana.ru, www.muslimuzbekistan.org, our own website, www.hrw.org, and others. At the beginning of July 2006 the independent website Tribune informed its readers that it will cease operation.
In late February 2006, the Cabinet of Ministers issued a new law further restricting the work of independent journalists. On May 3, the Committee to Protect Journalists concluded that Uzbekistan is one of the 10 most censored countries in the world.
The latest victims of the governments assault on independent journalists are Jamshid Karimov, who went missing on September 12, and Ulugbeg Khaidarov, who was arrested on politically-motivated charges on September 14, 2006. Both are from Jizzakh province. There are serious concerns about their safety and well-being.