Freedom of the Press 2010 - Turkmenistan
|Publication Date||5 October 2010|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2010 - Turkmenistan, 5 October 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4cab061a28.html [accessed 2 October 2014]|
Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 30
Political Environment: 36
Economic Environment: 29
Total Score: 95
|Total Score, Status||96,NF||96,NF||96,NF||96,NF||96,NF|
President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov's government continued to enforce near-total control over the media in 2009, despite constitutional protections for press freedom and freedom of expression.
Though libel remains a criminal offense, the law is rarely invoked given the intensity of self-censorship and the extreme scarcity of independent and critical reporting.
The authorities harassed local correspondents working for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) during the year. In January, the security services threatened Dovletmurat Yazguliev and Osman Hallyev, both correspondents for RFE/RL's Turkmen service. In April, another RFE/RL reporter, Gurbandurdy Durdykuliyev, was intimidated with repeated vandalism of his home and car. Other reporters for foreign outlets continued to encounter insurmountable obstacles to accreditation, forcing them to work unofficially if at all.
In September 2009, Reporters Without Borders reported that the health of two imprisoned journalists, Sapardurdy Khadjiyev and Annakurban Amanklychev, was in jeopardy. They were arrested in 2006 with their colleague, Ogulsapar Muradova, who died several months later as a result of severe beatings in prison. The International Committee of the Red Cross has been denied access to Khadjiyev and Amanklychev, whose family members are all being held within the country.
The government retained an absolute monopoly on domestic media in 2009, directly controlling not only all domestic outlets, but also the printing presses, broadcasting facilities, and other infrastructure on which they depended. Several media leaders, like Begli Aliev of the state's Altyn Asyr television channel, were fired during the year without recourse or justification.
The authorities maintained a ban on foreign newspapers and periodical subscriptions, although copies of some politically benign newspapers like the Russian tabloid Argumenty i Fakty were sometimes available in bazaars.
Despite an absence of independent domestic media, many citizens had some access to international media through satellite dishes. In 2002 and 2007, the authorities ordered the removal of satellite dishes, but were forced to back down in the face of popular resistance and international condemnation.
Continued government restrictions and high costs kept internet access extremely limited in 2009, with only 1.5 percent of the population using the medium. The government controlled the dominant internet-service provider, TurkmenTeleCom, and restricted access to critical sites including regional news sources located outside Turkmenistan, opposition websites operated by Turkmens living abroad, and foreign outlets like the British Broadcasting Corporation. The country remained on the Committee to Protect Journalists' list of the world's worst environments for bloggers.