UNESCO has provided training to law enforcement and media representatives in Uzbekistan from 28 to 30 November 2018. The training, focused on establishing professional relations and ensuring safety of journalists, was carried out in cooperation with several ministries and public institutions.
The series of workshops was conducted by the UNESCO Office in Tashkent under the framework of the project “Safety of Journalists and Countering Impunity in the Media of Uzbekistan”, which aims at improving dialogue between law enforcement officers, judges, prosecutors and the media sector in Uzbekistan. It was the first time that such a joint training was organized in the country.
More than 40 people (including 10 representatives of security forces and 26 journalists) participated in a half-day round table on the importance of fostering cooperation between media with law-enforcement institutions on 28 November. It was preceded by a master class on relations with law enforcement officials for students of the journalism department of Uzbekistan State University of the World Languages (UzSUWL).
In addition, 13 judge and prosecutors together with 22 journalists attended a workshop “Freedom of expression and safety of journalists” on 29 and 30 November. The training comprised exercises and group work, and provided participants with practical guidance and tools on effective communication.
These events provided a new platform for discussion and cooperation on issues such as journalists’ safety, effective implementation of media-related legislation and effective communication between law enforcement and the population.
“I had a chance to learn the specificities of journalists’ work”, indicated one of the participants from the General Prosecutor’s Office. “I understood that this work was not easy and worth respect. Eventually, we all work towards the same goal – justice and rule of law.” One of the journalist participants stated: “I learnt the importance of ethics and rules of conduct in court. I gained better knowledge about authority, responsibility, as well as the restrictions which court representatives and law-enforcement bodies face.”
The participants highlighted the importance of journalists’ safety issues and of the role of judges and prosecutors in promoting an enabling environment for a free, independent and pluralistic media. The participants also indicated the importance of organizing more activities connecting international and national levels to promote and guarantee fundamental freedoms such as freedom of expression, press freedom and access to information, which are central to the establishment of better-informed societies. The round table ended with participants expressing their intention to continue supporting the dialogue between representatives of the press and law enforcement institutions using other platforms as well as in their daily interactions.
The project was launched in August 2018 and focuses on the implementation of two recently amended Uzbek national laws on media and on the safety of journalists. The project works with journalists and law enforcement officials to facilitate the effective resolution of cases involving accusations against journalists. Better collaboration between media and law-enforcement institutions in investigations and implementation of rule of law will serve as a specific protection mechanism and create a safer working environment for journalists in Uzbekistan.
The project’s activities are in line with the goals and priorities identified in the “Roadmap for further Development of Cooperation between the UN and Uzbekistan” for 2017–2020, as well as the UN Plan of Action on Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity. The project is supported by the United Kingdom.