Journalists in Tajikistan - helping citizens to protect their rights

10 December 2008

Citizen complaints to media regarding human rights violations increased in Tajikistan in the period September - December 2008, reported TAIEMM (Tajik Association of Independent Electronic Mass Media Organizations).

The poor provision of water, heating and electricity and health issues became topics for TV and radio programs as a result of a series of human rights trainings for Tajik electronic media.

Some 35 journalists from independent newspapers, TV and radio companies in Sogd, Khatlon regions, and in the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe, were trained in human rights by the Tajik Association of Independent Electronic Mass Media Organization, TAIEMM, and supported by the UNESCO's International Programme for the Development of Communication, IPDC.

Three media training workshops provided journalists with an overview of the fundamental principles of human rights including labor and pension rights, children's rights, gender law, HIV and AIDS related laws and procedural rules.

The training was specifically designed to give journalists practical knowledge and skills necessary for television and radio reporting, writing articles and conducting interviews. They also learned how to inform the public on how to overcome problems of excessive bureaucracy.

"The majority of our audience and readers are rural residents; they are deprived of their right to obtain legal advice and necessary legal assistance. When people from the villages learn more about their rights and responsibilities, then they can be involved in local economic and political reforms," Mahmoud Dadabaev, director of TV Dzhahonaro said.

After the training, signs of dialogue have begun to emerge on human rights issues. Vladimir Martynov, the editor of a popular talk show in the town of Isfara, north Tajikistan, reported substantial improvement in the relationship between media and the local administration; the relationship had previously been characterized by defensiveness to media criticism. Human Rights is becoming a more popular topic on talk shows and news programs with wider participation by citizens and civil society organizations.

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