Five years after President Islam Karimov’s death in August 2016, a thaw is under way in what was one of the world’s harshest dictatorships. The last imprisoned journalists – some of whom were held for nearly 20 years – have been released but have not been rehabilitated. Access to websites that were censored for years has been unblocked but others remain inaccessible. Media registration has been made easier. There are now live political broadcasts and some journalists are now covering sensitive subjects such as corruption and forced labour. But criticising the highest level of government is still out of the question. And the authorities are in no hurry to carry out the necessary reforms to the laws that constrain the media. Surveillance, censorship and self-censorship are still present and the authorities maintain a significant level of control over the media. Bloggers are still being threatened or arrested. Uzbekistan has reopened its doors to foreign and exiled journalists but many journalists and media outlets, including the US government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, have found it difficult to obtain accreditation. It will be hard to fully restore press freedom without political pluralism and without justice for the dictatorship’s crimes. The road ahead is still long.
156 in 2020
53.07 in 2020