Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service reported yesterday that Tajik authorities have again failed to fully grant the accreditation requests of RFE/RL journalists and staff members.

The Tajik Foreign Ministry has reportedly been reluctant since late October to fully grant one-year accreditations to 18 RFE/RL journalists and staff members of RFE/RL’s Tajik Service, locally known as Radio Ozodi, whose credentials were withheld by the ministry or expired on November 1.

The ministry said on January 21 it had issued 6-month accreditations to four employees of the bureau, including a driver.  Accreditations for seven other journalists, including two former bureau chiefs, whom RFE/RL's Tajik Service had to replace due to the lack of accreditation, are pending, it added.

The partial fulfillment of the request reportedly mirrors a similar move on October 31, when the ministry granted partial accreditation to seven journalists -- six for six months each and one for three months -- while continuing to withhold it from 11 others.

Recall, Ms. Alice Wells, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs at the U.S. State Department, reminded Tajik officials earlier in January that the role of independent media is critical in the development of any country.  “We believe the role of independent media is critical in the development of any country... and particularly as Tajikistan goes into an election cycle with parliamentary and presidential elections [in 2020], having an active and open debates is particularly important,” Ambassador Wells told RFE/RL in an interview on January 7.  

“In my meetings today, I emphasized the importance of an independent media, including full accreditation for Radio Ozodi employees.  It’s important that the Tajik people have access to independent media outlets such as Asia-Plus, Akhbor, and Radio Ozodi," Wells said.

In a letter to Tajik Foreign Minister Sirojiddin Muhriddin in October, RFE/RL President Jamie Fly said the ministry's decision to withhold accreditation from some members of its Tajik Service and grant only partial accreditation to others was obstructing the organization's journalistic mission inside the country.