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Tajikistan21 December 2005

Djumaboi Tolibov freed after seven months in custody

Reporters Without Borders welcomed the release of freelance journalist Djumaboi Tolibov, who was singled out for punishment after he wrote a series of articles critical of the prosecutor general in the northern Sogd region.

He was freed from the local detention centre on 16 December after a prolonged legal battle with the Tajik authorities.

Tolibov was placed in custody on 24 April 2005 for writing a series of articles, exposing abuse of power by the prosecutor responsible for the secret services, which were carried by the daily Minbari Khalk and Sadoi Mardum, the Parliamentary Journal.

The prosecutor insulted and beat the journalist when he interviewed him about criminality in the region. Tolibov was sentenced to two years in prison by a court in Sogd for “hooliganism” on 28 July.

“We are relieved at the release of Djumaboi Tolibov and the decision by the Tajik judicial authorities,” said Reporters Without Borders. “Nevertheless, this case shows how a particularly thin-skinned prosecutor has been hounding a journalist who has had to pull out all the stops to get his country’s justice system to give him a hearing.”

The support of the National Association of Independent Media of Tajikistan (NANSMIT) and of the official representative of the OSCE in Dushanbe, Alain Couanon, have clearly been decisive in this case,” it added.

Tolibov had taken his case to the Tajik Supreme Court, the highest jurisdiction in the land, which had ordered his release last October. But the prosecutor general in Dushanbe succeeded in overturning the court’s decision by appealing.

When the journalist took the case before the Supreme Court for a second time, it rejected the prosecutor’s stance, and again ordered his release. The management of the detention centre then delayed in releasing him on the pretext that it had not yet been notified of the court’s decision. Tolibov therefore had to wait almost eight months before he could leave prison.

Reporters Without Borders is maintaining close vigilance of the media in Tajikistan where the authorities’ harassment of freelance journalists is routine. The government controls all the print works and the editorial line of the public media.

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