OSCE representatives reminded the Turkmen security forces of the need to ensure the safety of journalists

On June 27-28, an online seminar organized by the OSCE Center was held in Ashgabat, during which two invited experts from Lithuania told representatives of local authorities and media representatives about international standards in the field of preventing violence against journalists and promoting their rights, according to the website of the organization.

From the Turkmen side, the event was attended by deputies of the Mejlis (lower house) Milli Gengesh (parliament) of Turkmenistan, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Prosecutor General's Office, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Supreme Court, the Bar Association, the Institute of State, Law and Democracy, teachers of higher educational institutions, as well as journalists national print and broadcast media and information portals.

The experts highlighted a number of important issues related to the safety of journalists, including the creation of a safe environment for their work and the protection of women journalists online. They dwelled in detail on the rights of journalists in the 21st century and the relationship of journalists with the audience, the report says.

Commenting on the meeting, the head of the OSCE Ashgabat office, John McGregor , noted that journalists play a key role in covering important political processes, and ensuring the safety of journalists contributes to the strengthening of democratic states.

McGregor recalled that since 1975, the OSCE participating States have significantly expanded the package of commitments to ensure freedom of the media, and expressed the hope that the event will make an effective contribution to the practical implementation of the relevant provisions of the National Human Rights Action Plan of Turkmenistan for 2021-25.

Andrey Rikhter , Adviser to the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media , presented key OSCE commitments related to freedom of the media and the 2018 OSCE Ministerial Council Decision on the Safety of Journalists. Richter noted that OSCE participating States have an obligation to fully implement all of their commitments regarding freedom of expression and freedom of the media, including by respecting, promoting and protecting the freedom to seek, receive and impart information regardless of frontiers.

Earlier, Turkmenistan ranked fourth from the bottom in the World Press Freedom Index 2022 compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

According to RSF, after the March 2022 presidential elections, which resulted in Turkmenistan being led by the son of the previous president, censorship and surveillance of journalists intensified. All media existing in the country are obliged to adhere to the line of the government and create a positive image of Turkmenistan. Criticism of the President and other officials is prohibited. Journalists who dared to disobey the rules were harassed, imprisoned and tortured.

A month ago, “Chronicles of Turkmenistan” reported that in 2016, 73-year-old Agajuma Baýramow was arrested and spent 6 years in prison for several interviews with Radio Azatlyk . The elderly man said that in detention he was regularly subjected to torture and ill-treatment, as a result of which he lost his hearing and received serious illnesses.

After being released from prison, Bayramov is under close control of law enforcement agencies: he needs to report daily to the local police station; the police regularly come to his house, and he is also forbidden to leave the village without the permission of the police. On June 19, he went to Ashgabat to visit his two sons and their families without obtaining police permission. After arriving in the capital at the railway station, he was detained by the police and sent back home under escort.

In April, well-known independent journalist Soltan Achilova spoke about open surveillance and psychological pressure from the security services. Employees of the Ministry of National Security or the police come to the people with whom Achilova meets and warn that the journalist is connected with foreign sabotage organizations working against the state and those who maintain relations with her may have serious problems.

Source: Chronicles of Turkmenistan