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Tajikistan1 August 2005

Two-year prison sentence for journalist who criticised provincial prosecutor

Reporters Without Borders voiced shock today at the two-year prison sentence handed down by a court in the northern region of Sogd on 28 July on Djumaboi Tolibov, a freelance journalist and employee of Tajikistan’s department of justice, for three articles criticising the region’s state prosecutor.

"We do not understand this utterly disproportionate sentence," the organisation said. "It shows that free expression is under great threat in Tajikistan if criticism of the authorities is treated as a serious crime."

The judge found Tolibov guilty of "incivility, violation of domicile and breach of his obligations" as a justice department employee. The National Association of Tajikistan Independent Media (NANSMIT) reported that several prosecution witnesses did not attend the trial but the court nonetheless accepted their written statements. Tolibov afterwards said he would appeal to the supreme court.

This sentence follows other signs that the Tajik government is taking a harder line towards the independent media. Publication of the independent weekly Nerui was suspended on 13 July.


2 June 2005 Journalist arrested for criticising abusive prosecutor

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the arrest of Djumaboi Tolibov on 24 April in Dushanbe and his subsequent transfer to Aininsky prison (in the Sogdisky region) where he is still being held.

"This journalist’s arrest appears to have been the arbitrary act of a prosecutor who does not like criticism, and we call for his immediate release," the press freedom organisation said.

Tolibov’s wife, Sanavbar Tolibova, and the National Association of Independent Media of Tajikistan (NANSMIT) said he was arrested for criticising Sogdisky regional prosecutor Sayfidin Azamov in reports headlined "The prosecutor knows no limits" and "Who is the prosecutor really?" published on 18 August and 10 November in the daily Minbari Khalk (the newspaper of the Popular Democratic Party of Tajikistan).

He also criticised him in a report entitled "Who defends us?" in the Parliamentary Newspaper on 18 September.

Tolibov said in these articles that Azamov, who is in charge of coordinating the secret services, insulted him and beat him after he asked Azamov for information about crime in his region.

Tolibov immediately filed a complaint about this assault, and raised the case with the general tribunal of the republic and the Sogdisky regional court. His complaint was never dealt with and Azamov is believed to have ordered his arrest in reprisal.




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