VIENNA, 24 September 2010 - The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, said today that she is alarmed by the unrelenting judicial pressure exerted on independent journalists in Uzbekistan.
In a letter sent to Uzbekistan's Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov, Mijatovic expressed her concern over the fate of two prosecuted journalists: Abdumalik Boboyev, a freelance reporter for the U.S.-funded broadcaster Voice of America; and Vladimir Berezovsky, the chief editor of the Russian-language Vesti.uz information website and Central Asia correspondent for Russia's Parlamentskaya gazeta newspaper.
Boboyev is awaiting trial on multiple charges that include libel, insult, violating border regulations, and producing and distributing materials that represent a threat to public security and order. Berezovsky, a Russian citizen, is on trial on accusations of defamation.
"The cases of Boboyev and Berezovsky are yet another indication that the press freedom-situation in Uzbekistan continues to deteriorate, and I urge the authorities to reverse this trend," Mijatovic said.
In her letter to Minister Norov, Mijatovic also addressed once again the cases of three journalists who are serving jail sentences of between six and 12.5 years. They are:
"Non state-media in Uzbekistan continue to be the target of unrelenting judicial harassment and this is a matter of serious concern to me. It is my duty to remind the Uzbek authorities that journalists should be free to pursue their professional activities without hindrance in line with OSCE media freedom commitments and principles," Mijatovic said.