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Kazakhstan, Tajikistan: Freedom House

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Continuing a 3-Part series on Freedom House's Freedom of the World ratings for all five Central Asian states; Today are Kazakhstan and Tajikistan
Here is a link to how Freedom House scores each nation.

Kazakhstan
Political Rights , 6/7

Civil Rights , 5/7

Status , Not Free

Freedom House's analysis of political and civil rights in Kazakhstan portrays a country headed in the wrong direction. The report highlights political violence in the country as being a growing issue with many opposition leaders, most notably Altynbek Sarsenbayev, facing assassination and intimidation attempts. The report blames much of this violence on clans competing to replace President Nazarbayev when he leaves office in 2012. State control over the media has increased with a new media minister and legislation. The state has a near monopoly over the control of the judiciary, rights of association and assembly, and NGOs. Corruption is said to be widespread in all levels of government and the trafficking of women for prostitution is a major problem.

Tajikistan
Political Rights , 6/7

Civil Rights , 5/7

Status , Not Free

Despite receiving the identical "freedom score' as Kazakhstan, Tajikistan's democratic outlook, though far from pristine, is not quite so dire according to FH. President Rakhmonov and his People's Democratic Party continue to dominate the political landscape and will most likely maintain this for the foreseeable future (Rakhmonov can hold the presidency until 2020). Though Tajikistan is the only Central Asian state with a legal religion-based party, the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP), after the 2006 elections, FH sees opposition parties struggling to have any influence in government. Despite constitutional guarantees for the freedom of speech and press, independent journalists still face harassment and before the November 2006 presidential election, five websites critical of the government were temporarily shut down. Concerning NGOs, a number of them operate in the nation without interference, but international NGOs now must notify the Tajik government before any meetings with local politicians.

On an unrelated note, Ferghana.ru reporter Omar Sharifov has a piece about the recent thaw in Uzbekistan-US relations, centered on a joint Uzbek-American forum arranged by the US Embassy. The forum featured a speech by US Ambassador Richard Norland, who, although stated that "no significant' changes have occurred concerning Uzbek human rights' policies and actions, went on to emphasize that "marks of progress' were "already clear.'

 

Author

Patrick Frost

Patrick Frost recently graduated from New York University's Masters Program in Political Science - International Relations. His MA thesis analyzed the capabilities and objectives of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Central Asia and beyond and explored how these affected U.S. interests and policy.

Areas of Focus:
Eurasia, American Foreign Policy, Ideology, SCO

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