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Tajikistan’s National Assembly to debate bill that would punish fake news


Tajikistan’s National Assembly to debate bill that would punish fake news

Tajikistan Reuters
Photo: Reuters

The upper house of Tajikistan’s parliament will meet today in Dushanbe to discuss amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences, which serves as a legal act to regulate administrative liability for offences against Tajik law.

On June 10, the lower chamber of parliament modified existing legislation to penalise disinformation regarding COVID-19, sending it to the upper house for approval. The measures call for fines between $57-113 and $850-1,130 for natural persons and businesses, respectively, that spread false information. Human rights groups have criticised the ambiguous wording, which could serve a pretext for restricting freedom of the press.

President Emomali Rahmon’s suppression of any credible opposition means the legal changes will almost certainly be passed. Given the already fragile state of domestic civil rights, the new amendments may be the final nail in the coffin. Analysts have noted that Tajikistan is not unique in adopting such legislation. Fellow Central Asian republics Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have pursued similar policies, leading to concerns that regional leadership may exploit the pandemic to erode civil liberties under the guise of crisis management. Expect the region to witness increased media scrutiny and persecution of civil society.

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