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OSCE Representative Calls On Tajikistan To Accredit RFE/RL Staff Members

OSCE Media Freedom Representative Harlem Desir (file photo)

OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media Harlem Desir has called on Tajikistan to granted accreditations to the “entire team” of RFE/RL’s Tajik Service, saying journalists must be able to work "freely without undue restrictions."

Desir made the call in a tweet on January 23, as Tajikistan’s Foreign Ministry has been reluctant to fully grant one-year accreditations to 18 journalists and staff members of the Tajik Service, known locally as Radio Ozodi.

Their credentials have been withheld or expired on November 1.

The Foreign Ministry has since granted only partial accreditation to 11 members of the Tajik Service, which falls short of the year-long accreditations mandated by Tajik law, while seven Radio Ozodi correspondents remain without credentials.

In a letter to Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin on January 21, RFE/RL President Jamie Fly said the Tajik government failed to honor its commitments to allow the organization's Tajik Service to function "unimpeded" and to "fulfill Tajikistan's international obligations to respect independent media."

The Washington Post, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Human Rights Watch, and local Tajik media-advocacy groups have decried the government's withholding of accreditation as a violation of media freedom and a means of censorship.

Members of the U.S. Congress have criticized the use of accreditation to restrict Radio Ozodi's independent reporting and warned that a failure to allow RFE/RL to operate freely could affect U.S.-Tajik relations.

Tajik law prohibits foreign-media journalists from working without accreditation. RFE/RL, which is funded by a grant from the U.S. Congress through the U.S. Agency for Global Media, operates as an international media organization in Tajikistan.

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