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Last Updated: Friday, 20 July 2007, 18:46 GMT 19:46 UK
Tajik MPs approve internet curbs
Tajikistan's parliament has approved legislation making it a criminal offence to publish false or offensive information on the internet.

The bill must be signed off by President Emomali Rakhmon before becoming law.

Under the proposal, anyone who publishes statements that "offend dignity" may face imprisonment.

Tajik media are largely state-run and human rights groups say the country lacks freedom of expression.

While only a small proportion of the mountainous country's six million people have access to the internet, it provides a rare space for dissent, campaigners say.

Human rights groups have criticised Tajik authorities for using legislation against slandering the president to restrict political debate.

"In practice, the defamation provisions are often applied not only to factually false attacks on reputation, but when the media criticises politicians," the London-based human rights group Article 19 said in a report published on Friday.

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