Violating Constitution, decree charges media for access to public information

first_img Receive email alerts News to go further Organisation May 14, 2021 Find out more News December 16, 2009 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Violating Constitution, decree charges media for access to public information TajikistanEurope – Central Asia News News A Tajik government decree charging privately-owned media for access to public information is “utterly grotesque,” Reporters Without Borders said today. Issued on 31 October, the decree “On the recovery by state institutions of the costs of presenting information” took effect on 19 November.“Having to pay for raw public information is a direct violation of the principles of transparency and free and equal access to information,” Reporters Without Borders said. “This confusing decree is contrary not only to international standards but also Tajikistan’s own laws.” The media were not consulted about the decree, which was not submitted to parliament and was not the subject of any debate. It concerns “all information in official documents” except state secrets and information involving individual citizens. According to government sources, a number of exceptions are envisaged, but the wording is very vague.Abdufato Vakhidov, a coordinator of the National Association of Independent Media (NANSMIT), told Reporters Without Borders: “The decree concerns all written information but not oral information.” All branches of the state are required to enforce it, including municipal services.Since the decree took effect a month ago, privately-owned media have been charged up to 25 somoni (4 euros) for each page of information. At the start of next month, the ceiling will increase to 35 somoni (5.50 euros), a sizable sum in a country in which the average monthly wage is 40 euros.Reporters Without Borders is perplexed by the decree’s unprecedented and loosely-worded provisions, which appear to contradict both Tajikistan’s constitution and its law “On the right of access to information.”“As it stands, the decree can only arouse great concern,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The very diverse interpretations in the local press reflect the confusion about its provisions and civil society’s mistrust of authorities that show little interest in giving the public unrestricted access to state information. Clarification is needed about the type of information concerned by the decree, which encourages corruption and unequal treatment of the media.”The decree’s retrograde nature is particularly serious in a country where good governance is badly lacking and the authorities should be doing everything possible to gain legitimacy in the public’s eyes. The introduction of charges provides additional scope for the corruption that is already endemic in Tajikistan, ranked 150th out of 179 countries in the Transparency International index.Article 2.13 of the decree stipulates that information continues to be free for the state-owned media, giving them an unfair advantage over the private media, which will either have to pay or limit themselves to tamely using government releases.When they receive a request for information, officials are supposed to respond within seven days but the decree says the period can be extended “if more time is needed to obtain requested information whose access is more difficult.” This flexibility could be a powerful weapon in the hands of officials who are reluctant to release information or who want to charge extra for “rapid processing.”The journalistic community’s concern, widely reflected in the media in recent weeks, was expressed again at a round-table organised in Dushanbe on 14 December with the support of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.There is also concern about a proposed new media law that is due to be examined soon by the Tajik parliament. The bill’s content is not yet known but journalists point out that the existing media law can at least be invoked as grounds for claiming that the decree is illegal.Ranked 113th out of 175 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, Tajikistan has been hit hard by the international economic crisis and is on the verge of bankruptcy. The country is propped up by remittances from emigrant workers and funding from international bodies.Access to information is a particularly important issue in the run-up to parliamentary elections scheduled for 21 February.(Photo : RFE/RL) center_img Follow the news on Tajikistan #CollateralFreedom: RSF unblocks eight sites censored during pandemic RSF_en Help by sharing this information Tajikistan imposes total control over independent broadcast media TajikistanEurope – Central Asia November 6, 2020 Find out more Journalist loses accreditation over report about Tajikistan’s president August 25, 2020 Find out morelast_img read more

Extraterrestrial Signal Kept Secret By Russia Sparks SETI Probe

first_imgSign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A mysterious extraterrestrial signal emanating from an ancient solar system kept secret by Russia has sparked an investigation by the SETI Institute into the possibility it was sent by super-intelligent life forms.Yes, you heard that correctly: An extraterrestrial signal from another solar system is being investigated by SETI in the hopes it is a cosmic communication from really really smart alien beings. The otherworldly blip was first detected by Russian astronomers in May 2015, yet in a bizarre break with established protocol, they’ve only just alerted the nonprofit, and other interstellar investigators, now. In response, SETI, aka the Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence, swung the Allen Telescope Array (ATA)—a team of 42 radio telescope dishes in Hat Creek, Calif.—in the direction of the alien signal’s source, a solar system several billion years older than the sun called HD 164595.Although HD 164595 is known only to have one Neptune-sized planet that we know of, scientists speculate the system could host other worlds yet undiscovered. Related: Proxima b: Second Habitable Earth Discovered Near Proxima CentauriIf in fact the mystery message did originate from that particular solar system—something the ATA is scanning the skies to verify—SETI’s Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak explains in a recent analysis that the extraterrestrial beings who sent it would be uber-intelligent, and would have developed technologies far beyond mankind’s wildest dreams. To begin with, says Shostak, HD 164595 is 94 light years away. These alien creatures wouldn’t have any reason to have targeted us, specifically, since any TV or radar communications we’ve sent out to the outer depths of the universe haven’t even reached their solar system yet. “There are two interesting cases,” speculates Shostak. “They [the alien beings] decide to broadcast in all directions. Then the required power is 1020 watts, or 100 billion billion watts. That’s hundreds of times more energy than all the sunlight falling on Earth, and would obviously require power sources far beyond any we have. Related: Sonic Boom, Earthquake, Government Cover-Up, Meteor, Or Something More Sinister?Second, he continues: “They aim their transmission at us. This will reduce the power requirement, but even if they are using an antenna the size of the 1000-foot Arecibo instrument [at 96 feet in length, the world’s largest single dish radio telescope, located in Puerto Rico] they would still need to wield more than a trillion watts, which is comparable to the total energy consumption of all humankind.’Related: 5 Real-Life ‘Stranger Things’-Montauk, Long Island ParallelsSETI’s search amid the enigmatic HD 164595 has only just begun, and it’s uncertain if the unearthly call will ever be detected again. Nonetheless, it is quite astonishing, and has had the perhaps unintended effect of millions of us learning about SETI, the perplexing realm of HD 164595, and wondering if it is indeed the latest “What’s up?” from another curious martian species. Or us, our highly evolved ancestors, in the future. Or simply neighboring cousins from those “extraterrestrials” already living among us. The search, therefore, for now, dear friends, continues.Stay tuned…Main Art: An extraterrestrial signal from an ancient world kept secret by Russia is being investigated by SETI (Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute. (Photo: An artist’s impression of the recently discovered Earth-like exoplanet Proxima b orbiting the red dwarf star Proxima Centauri. Credit: SETI Institute, ESO/M. Kornmesser)last_img read more