The authoritarian president of ex-Soviet Tajikistan (L) has approved proposal to decriminalize libel in a move likely to be welcomed by media freedoms advocates.
Emomali Rakhmon's office said on July 4 that the offense will now be downgraded to a civil violation.
Journalists have consistently come under pressure from authorities since the former Soviet country gained independence in 1991, but the libel law reform signals some effort at relaxing conditions for independent media.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe hailed plans to adopt the law earlier this year. It expressed concern, however, about persisting legal provisions to make publicly insulting the president an offense punishable by a fine or up to five years in jail.