U.S. Government Supports Increased Rights for Media and Armed Forces in Tajikistan

United States Ambassador Susan M. Elliott, along with representatives from the U.S. Embassy, the Tajik government, media, and civil society, participated in the OSCE’s Preparatory Human Dimension Implementation Meeting on July 27, 2015. The event highlighted discussion on the current state of human rights in Tajikistan. Ambassador Elliott gave remarks discussing the importance of emphasizing human rights in media freedom, domestic violence, migration, and security in the armed forces.

Ambassador Elliott stressed that a free and independent media is not the cause of security threats, but rather a safeguard against them. She noted that when reporting on security issues, the media should strike a balance between the legitimate security concerns of the government and the rights of the citizens guaranteed by Tajik and international law. The Ambassador also cautioned against restricting access to independent reporting and communication, an action that would leave Tajikistan’s citizens more vulnerable to politically-motivated disinformation from other sources. In her final remarks, Ambassador Elliott proposed that the government of Tajikistan and media outlets actively protect and promote citizens’ access to independent media in order to lessen the potential for disinformation while also stimulating the industry to be more diverse, competitive, and lucrative.

U.S. Defense Attaché Suvari’s remarks discussed ensuring the basic rights of the soldier, while being consistent with national security. He encouraged open communication and outlets to address grievances by members of the armed forces, stating that the rights of citizens to voice objections echoes soldiers’ rights to complain and request the correction of a grievance. He also noted that the United States includes training on human rights as part of all the trainings conducted with Tajik partners.

The U.S. mission to Tajikistan is steeped in a tradition of safeguarding human rights as an essential prerequisite for the equitable development and growth of any society. The U.S. government’s assistance programs in Tajikistan are based on the shared principle that everyone is entitled to live with dignity, free from discrimination and abuse. Over the past 20 years, the United States has worked with Tajikistan’s government, armed forces, media and non-governmental organizations to secure respect for human rights, civil society, and democratic engagement as requirements to develop a stronger country.