Tajik journalists and media-rights groups have rejected a draft Code of Conduct for Journalists and a so-called Professional Oath of the Journalist at a roundtable in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe.
Today's meeting was organized by the Tajik Foreign Ministry and the Tajik NGO Information and Communication.
The draft documents would have required journalists to take an oath before accepting a job in a media organization, promising to take full responsibility for the consequences of their actions.
Among many other rules, the draft code also warned journalists against collaborating with intelligence organizations. Some of the meeting participants said it would have made reporters working for foreign news agencies an especially easy target for baseless accusations and charges.
Akbar Sattorov, the head of Tajikistan’s Association of Journalists, told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that he is not opposed in principle to the idea of having a code of professional conduct for journalists.
“However, Tajikistan is not yet ready to have additional rules and code for journalists,” Sattorov said. “And given the circumstances in Tajikistan, we are concerned that the new code would be used against journalists and force them into self-censorship, and restrict their freedom.”
A new working group is being assembled to take a fresh look at the proposals.
Tajik authorities have been intolerant toward independent media outlets that criticize government policies.
Several independent publications that have criticized the government have been closed, including, “Ruzi Nav” (New Day), “Odamu Olam” (People and The World), and “Nirui Sukhan” (Power of Speech).
Fearing the same outcome, other independent journalists and publications have opted for self-censorship, mostly covering nonpolitical issues.
(Read an in-depth profile
of former "Ruzi Nav" editor Rajabi Mirzo as part of our new series called "On The Front Lines."