Reporters Without Borders reiterates its support for one of Uzbekistan’s few remaining independent reporters, Abdulmalik Boboyev, following an appeal court decision on 12 November to uphold the fine of 10,000 dollars that a Tashkent court imposed on him last month. The fine is 400 times what he earns every month as Voice of America correspondent.
Boboyev is entirely innocent of the charges on which he was convicted – defaming and insulting the Uzbek people and threatening public order. The case is typical of the way the Uzbek authorities treat journalists as criminals, but Boboyev’s only crime was to do his job as a reporter.
After being found guilty in October, Boboyev told Reporters Without Borders he feared that the already small number of independent journalists in Uzbekistan could shrink even further. Referring to his conviction, he also said he would fight to the end.
U.S. and British representatives, journalists and human rights activists were able to attend the appeal hearing. After deliberating for just 10 minutes, a jury issued its decision to confirm the lower court’s verdict. Boboyev’s lawyer said he would appeal to the supreme court.
In a statement issued after the hearing, the U.S. embassy condemned the use of the criminal justice system to punish journalists for freely expressed views, saying it was contrary to Uzbekistan’s constitution and its international obligations.
President Islam Karimov meanwhile submitted a constitutional reform proposal to parliament the same day as the hearing. It includes changes to the judicial system and provisions for better funding for the media.