Turkmenistan has replaced North Korea in bottom place in the Reporters sans frontières (RSF, or Reporters Without Borders) 2019 World Press Freedom Index ranking of 180 countries. It has fallen two places from the 178th position it held in 2018.
“The Turkmen government controls all media and the few internet users are able to access only a highly-censored version of the internet. But that does not satisfy President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, who is also known as 'Father Protector.' Harassment of the few journalists who work clandestinely for media outlets based abroad keeps on growing,” the RSF said.
“In recent years, several of these journalists have been arrested, tortured, physically attacked or otherwise forced to stop working, with the result that their employers now sometimes use the services of citizen-journalists,” it added.
Using a pretext for making Turkmen cities more visually appealing, the authorities periodically start up campaigns to remove satellite dishes, taking away one of the few remaining ways the public can access uncontrolled news coverage.
A new broadcasting law, which theoretically provides the possibility of privately-owned TV channels, has the condition that the channels promote “a positive image of Turkmenistan.”
In 2018, the United Nations formally recognised that the Turkmen government was responsible for the death of journalist Ogulsapar Muradova as a result of her mistreatment in detention in 2006.
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