During the past few months, allegations have been made regarding the editorial and professional integrity of the work of RFE/RL's Tajik Service, known locally as Ozodi. The allegations that have been shared with us range from claims of pro-government bias to corruption, mismanagement, and state interference in editorial decisionmaking. RFE/RL does not tolerate any violations of its mission and its code of ethics. Accordingly, in order to determine whether these allegations have merit, we have taken the following steps:
- RFE/RL's Standards Editor has reviewed the Tajik Service's journalism, with a particular focus on four areas: 1) failure to report objectively on Tajik President Emomali Rahmon and his family; 2) laudatory reporting, of low news value, of the presidential family and top officials; 3) failure to cite Western human rights reports that provided crucial context on key news stories; and 4) prejudicial reporting on the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan. This review found that RFE/RL's Tajik Service failed to live up to RFE/RL's standards in respect to all four areas, and we have already taken steps to correct these lapses.
- We have also commissioned an independent external editorial review of Tajik Service content. The panelists are regional experts and native Tajik speakers with a strong grounding in Western academic and journalistic standards. Their findings are expected to be complete in early April and will be made public.
- Some non-editorial allegations fall beyond the scope of our ability to investigate internally. Earlier this month, RFE/RL asked the State Department's Office of the Inspector General to investigate those claims. Corrective action will follow any investigation by the OIG, as warranted.
RFE/RL's Central Asian reporters work in some of the world’s most restrictive environments. Our correspondents are under constant surveillance by security services and openly pressured to avoid scrutiny of top government officials. This month alone, three of our journalists in Kazakhstan have been detained while covering public protests.
RFE/RL's independent reporting is vital to our audiences living under repressive regimes that have all but silenced dissent. In many countries, RFE/RL is the only alternative to state-run media peddling disinformation and false narratives. Anyone who doubts our commitment to hard-hitting journalism need look no further than Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, where our bureaus have been forcibly closed due to our reporting, and in Russia, where RFE/RL has been declared a foreign agent and our journalists work under constant threat of harassment.
I am committed to resolving this issue in a transparent and comprehensive manner. We at RFE/RL look forward to continuing our important mission of delivering objective news and information to the audiences who need it most.
Acting President, RFE/RL