Elections cannot be democratic without freedom of information

first_imgNews Journalist loses accreditation over report about Tajikistan’s president Receive email alerts News Follow the news on Tajikistan Tajikistan holds parliamentary elections on 1 March and Reporters Without Borders is concerned about the toxic climate in which news organizations are forced to work in the country, noting that democratic elections cannot take place unless there is freedom of information. More than 4 million voters are called to the polls to choose 63 members from among 288 candidates. Although the vote has the appearances of democracy, the dire state of freedom of information surrounding the ballot is indicative of the draconian behaviour of President Emomali Rakhmon, who has been in office since 1992. Tajikistan is ranked 116th of 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders. “There can be no democracy without media pluralism and without free access to news and information,” Johann Bihr, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk, pointed out.“It should be noted that freedom of information continues to deteriorate in Tajikistan, to the point where it is a cause of considerable concern on the eve of the elections. We urge the authorities to ensure Tajik citizens have the right to report and receive news and information. We call on the international community to remind Dushanbe of its commitments and hold it to account for the large-scale violations of this basic democratic principle.”Campaign marked by bullying tacticsSeveral independent journalists have told Reporters Without Borders they have received threats from the intelligence services in the weeks leading up to the vote. They have been warned in emails and text messages to “stop writing critical stories” or face public exposure of their private lives. A smear tactic that points to the existence of a vast surveillance system in the country. Other independent journalists have been the targets of campaigns to discredit them in the official media and on social networking sites, often also using elements from their private lives. In one recent instance, a report by the State TV station TVT accused some independent news organizations of supporting the mayor of Dushanbe in exchange for benefits in kind, such as apartments or land. In a joint statement on 16 February, the National Association of Independent Mass Media in Tajikistan (NANSMIT), the Journalists’ Union and the Media Council of Tajikistan called for an end to “attacks and moves aimed at intimidating and obstructing the professional activities of journalists”, the manipulation of the media for political ends and repeated intrusions into the private lives of independent journalists.Media pluralism underminedGiven the lack of media pluralism, the election campaign was bound to be dull and political competition one-sided. The authorities control almost all broadcasting outlets. Three campaign spots by the opposition party Islamic Renaissance of Tajikistan were barred from the airwaves on the grounds that they were not made in one of the few officially authorised studios. The appeal by convicted businessman Zayd Saidov, arrested and tried soon after he set up an opposition party in 2013, is being held in camera. Saidov, a former industry minister, was sentenced to 26 years’ imprisonment after being found guilty of sexual offences, polygamy, and fraud and corruption. The Asia Plus media group, which has a weekly, a news agency, a radio station, a television studio and a news website of record, is one of the few sources of independent news in Tajikistan. Access to its website has been regularly blocked inside the country in recent years. In spring last year, the weekly and its editor Olga Tutubalina were found guilty of insulting the country’s intellectuals in a farcical trial and ordered to pay the three plaintiffs 30,000 somoni (4,500 euros). The number of trials of independent journalists has risen in the run-up to the parliamentary elections Freedom of information targeted by paranoid authoritiesThe temporary blocking of access to social networks and independent news sites has been a frequent occurrence since 2012, yet in October 2014 access to more than 200 websites was cut off for two weeks, including Facebook, Vkontakte and YouTube, as well as the main Tajik, Russian and Central Asian news sites.Access was blocked soon after the opposition movement Group 24 announced it would hold an anti-government demonstration. It was restored a day after the event, which did not take place. This unprecedented blackout was accompanied by drastic restrictions on telecoms networks. Text messaging was suspended for several days and Internet access was cut off completely in the northern region of Sughd. Such disproportionate and oppressive responses stem from the authorities’ visceral fear of destabilisation, using the spectre of the civil war that tore the country apart between 1992 and 1997 to justify their fear of the opposition. Aleksandr Sodiqov, an academic and specialist in conflict prevention arrested in June last year, has paid the price for the authorities’ paranoia. The netizen’s only offence was to have interviewed an opposition leader in the autonomous south-eastern province of Gorno-Badakhshan as part of his research. The province was the scene of violent clashes in 2012, which were shrouded in secrecy. Accused of spying, he was held in custody for a month and was released only after a massive international campaign. Tajikistan imposes total control over independent broadcast media February 27, 2015 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Elections cannot be democratic without freedom of information Help by sharing this information RSF_en TajikistanEurope – Central Asia center_img to go further TajikistanEurope – Central Asia News NANSMIT, a partner organization of Reporters Without Borders, has published recommendations for journalists aimed at ensuring impartial and objective coverage of the elections. (Photo: AFP Photo / STR) #CollateralFreedom: RSF unblocks eight sites censored during pandemic Organisation November 6, 2020 Find out more May 14, 2021 Find out more News August 25, 2020 Find out morelast_img read more

Life of Brian goes on show at sailor’s home in Limerick

first_img#HearThis: New music and video from Limerick rapper Strange Boy NewsLocal NewsLife of Brian goes on show at sailor’s home in LimerickBy Alan Jacques – May 29, 2014 2100 Previous articleISPCC Limerick remembers all the missing childrenNext articleNo room at Limerick kennels for stray dogs Alan Jacqueshttp://www.limerickpost.ie Emma Langford shortlisted for RTE Folk Award and playing a LIVE SHOW!!! this Saturday Facebook Twitter WhatsApp A RETROSPECTIVE exhibition representing 40 years of paintings by renowned Limerick artist Brian MacMahon will open at the Sailor’s Home on O’Curry Street this Friday, May 30.Titled ‘Real Hallucinations’, the exhibit will run until June 20 and offers Limerick audiences a unique opportunity to experience four decades of MacMahon’s work.Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter Sign Up Born in 1955, Brian studied at Limerick School of Art from 1973 to 1977, unbeknown to his parents that he had dropped out of school and wasn’t going to study architecture. After moving to Dublin in 1979, the Limerick man quickly developed a reputation as a portrait painter which led to a number of exhibition opportunities and solo shows.Brian moved back to Limerick in 1998. He has a studio in Limerick, lives near the city and takes every opportunity to explore new vistas around the country.His paintings represents colour on a large scale and he mixes light and mood with bold convincing colours in his landscapes, portraits and interiors. Colour predominates his work and the subject emerges from the painting, shocking in its accuracy. The viewer is led to look closely to examine the thick surfaces and the perfect strokes and component elements, and then to step back to absorb the whole painting, its atmosphere and mood.Brian’s retrospective exhibition will take place in ‘the Sailor’s Home’, a beautiful early Victorian building overlooking the Shannon and Limerick Docks. Following decades of fund raising the Sailor’s Home was completed in 1859 for the sum of £960. In recent years, it has fallen into disrepair and has been saved by the Shannon Foynes Port Company who have kindly allowed MacMahon to host his exhibition there.‘Real Hallucinations’ will run at the Sailor’s House on O’Curry Street from May 30 to June 20. Celebrating a ground breaking year in music from Limerick Printcenter_img TAGSBrian MacMahonMusic LimerickSailor’s Home RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Email Advertisement #SaucySoul: Room 58 – ‘Hate To See You Leave’ Linkedin Watch the streamed gig for Fergal Nash album launch Painting pets en plein air – todaylast_img read more

GAO reports progress, pitfalls in state medical surge planning

first_imgJul 14, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a status report yesterday on progress states have made toward preparing for a flood of people needing medical care in the wake of an event such as a terrorist attack or an influenza pandemic.The 59-page report, requested by various US Senate and House members, looked at four main components of medical “surge” readiness: increasing hospital capacity, pinpointing alternative care sites, enlisting medical volunteers, and planning for altered standards of care. The GAO also examined how federal departments have helped states make medical surge preparations, as well as what states have done for themselves. Lastly, investigators asked states what concerns they have about their medical surge planning.From 2002 to 2007 the federal government awarded states about $2.2 billion in medical preparedness funds through the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Hospital Preparedness Program, the GAO said in the report. Federal agencies have also issued several preparedness guidance documents for states, such as a game plan for reopening shuttered hospitals.Nongovernmental groups have also played an important role in issuing medical surge capacity guidance. In May, an expert task force issued a series of reports that took stock of current capabilities and recommended a framework for distributing care to as many patients as possible.Plotting surge-capacity progressGAO auditors found that of 20 states that were surveyed, many have made progress on three of the key components of medical surge planning: increasing hospital capacity, determining alternative care sites, and recruiting volunteer staff. However, only seven of them had adopted or were developing altered standards of medical care in response to a mass-casualty event.All the states that were surveyed had developed bed-reporting systems, and 18 have systems in place to report the number of available hospital beds within the state. For comparison, in 2005 only one of the states had developed a Web-based tracking system.Nearly all states that had military or Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals had started talks about coordinating care to boost hospital capacity. In one state, military hospital officials served on state emergency preparedness committees and participated in related training and exercises. Eight of 10 states in the survey group that have military hospitals reported that the military facility would take civilian patients in the event of an emergency if they have enough resources.However, the contribution of VA hospitals varied widely across the 19 states in the survey that have them. Four states reported that their VA hospitals would not take nonveteran patients in a medical surge setting.Eighteen of 20 states said they were selecting either fixed or mobile alternative care sites. States told GAO auditors that most counties are still identifying fixed alternative care sites, though some had already developed memorandums of understanding with facilities such as churches, schools, military bases, and shopping malls. Two states said they had fleshed out plans for mobile care facilities.Fifteen states have started registering volunteers in electronic medical volunteer databases, and 12 of those have begun verifying participants’ qualifications.Though only 7 of the 20 states had adopted or drafted altered standards of care, 11 said they had started discussions with stakeholders such as medical professionals and attorneys.States worry about staffing, paymentsStates told the GAO they faced several challenges in building surge capacity. While most states surveyed said they could boost the number of hospital beds in an emergency, some said they worried about how to staff the effort. Some state officials reported difficulty in selecting alternative care sites, particularly in small rural communities. Other states said that some facilities that could be used as care sites have already been earmarked as emergency shelters.Officials from several states aired concerns about how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would reimburse providers for care delivered at the alterative sites. Some said knowing the payment status ahead of time would make the planning and exercise exercises easier and more realistic. They also said they were unclear on how federal laws relating to patient privacy and emergency care would apply in a mass casualty event, particularly at care sites away from medical facilities.In terms of registering medical volunteers, states projected that some helpers might be reluctant to sign up because of worries that, as part of a required national database, they might be deployed to another state. Some states also said volunteer enlistment should be better coordinated to avoid overlap between programs.When addressing altered standards of care, some states requested more federal guidance, such as a summit of experts that could discuss complex issues related to allocating scarce resources.State officials cited several funding roadblocks in their medical surge planning. They suggested longer funding cycles for federal hospital preparedness grants to afford more time to prepare. They also cited concerns about decreasing federal funds for hospital preparedness, particularly in light of what they say are increased requirements. GAO auditors reported that hospital preparedness funds decreased about 18% from fiscal year 2004 to 2007.Agencies’ responses to recommendationsThe GAO recommended that HHS serve as a clearinghouse for states to share information about altered standards of care.HHS did not respond to that recommendation, but it did concur with the GAO’s findings. In a letter that accompanied the reports, Vincent Ventimiglia Jr, assistant secretary for legislation at HHS, wrote, “Overall, the report is a fair representation of progress that has been made to improve medical capacity since 2001.”He suggested that because “all disasters are local,” the GAO’s findings would be more useful if local perspectives were included, along with the feedback from states.The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreed with the GAO’s findings, but suggested that HHS may need to consider producing guidance to “direct states’ discussion” on allocating scarce resources. However, the GAO disagreed with the suggestion. “We believe a clearinghouse role is more appropriate for HHS than a directive role because the delivery of medical care is a state, local, and private function,” the authors wrote.In response to the report, a VA official said the VA’s varied role from state to state in emergency situations is rooted in its medical centers’ diverse ability to provide emergency treatment—not all centers provide the services or have the necessary emergency supplies.See also:GAO report on state medical surge preparationsMay 13 CIDRAP News story “Critical care panel tackles disaster preparation, surge capacity, rationing”last_img read more