The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has used an appearance at a conference in Turkmenistan to urge member states not to block Internet resources from public access.
OSCE media representative Dunja Mijatovic made the remarks at the gathering on online media in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, on July 5.
“What my office is working on in particular is the reform of media law [in Turkmenistan],” Mijatovic told RFE/RL via telephone. “We are actively engaged and we do hope to be able to see the draft very soon in order for my office and also independent consultants to evaluate it and offer recommendations so that Turkmenistan would have a law that is a modern and liberalized media freedom law, also following everything that is happening in relation to new technology.”
Many websites, including social media platforms and foreign-based opposition news sites, are inaccessible in Central Asia, particularly in authoritarian Turkmenistan.
Advocacy group Freedom House has listed Turkmenistan, an OSCE member, as one of eight “worst of the worst” nations for media freedom.
Noting that the July 5-6 conference was the first of its kind in Ashgabat, Mijatovic said, “that is why it’s even more important to discuss issues of media freedom.”
“We plan to adopt a joint declaration [at the conference] that I intend to send to all foreign ministers of the five Central Asian states in order to [draw their] attention to the issues that are core values of the OSCE’s media freedom commitments,” Mijatovic added.
A correspondent for RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service was barred from attending the conference.
Mijatovic told RFE/RL that she was unaware of that incident.