The efforts of mass media, NGOs, and government bodies in anti-corruption, transparency, and accountability were at the core of discussions during two trainings organized by Regional Dialogue, in partnership with the Anti-Corruption Agency, on "The role of mass media and NGOs in ensuring transparency of state bodies and fighting corruption” and “The role of press services of state bodies in creating an environment of intolerance towards corruption and forming an information environment on corruption,” 11-12 September 2023.
Head of the Regional Dialogue Office in Uzbekistan Petra Gorjup, Deputy Director of the Anti-Corruption Agency Umida Tukhtasheva, and Chairman of Council of National NGO Association Kamoliddin Ishankhodjaev delivered keynote addresses.
“The media serves as the watchdog of society, holding those in power accountable and shining a light on corrupt practices. The role of media as the fourth estate is indispensable in promoting transparency, exposing wrongdoing, and fostering an environment where corruption cannot thrive,” said Petra Gorjup.
The discussions touched on a wide range of issues from raising public awareness, nurturing a zero-tolerance culture to corruption, journalistic investigations, government transparency, independence, and impartiality of journalists, the role of whistle-blowers and civil society, and cooperation with civil society and media.
A guest speaker Rachelle Cohen, assistant editorial page editor of the Boston Globe, who is a 2021 Pulitzer Prize finalist, shared her insights and experiences in open exchanges with the Uzbek press service officers. Many countries adopted the so-called "sunshine laws" that commit the state institutions to transparency and incorporate "proactive transparency" as an effective way of enhancing the legitimacy of public administration and democratic governance. It is important to strengthen anti-corruption culture: citizens should know that corruption robs them of honest services of public officials, said Ms. Cohen answering the question of how the international standards define corruption. She pointed out that under international standards, corruption is where "quid pro quo" is present and where abuse of public office is involved and added: “There is no difference between the West and the East when it comes to corruption and people’s perception of corruption. People know that they are not getting good value from their government if it is corrupt. They are paying too much and getting too little in return.”
Feruza Mirzakomilova of the Anti-Corruption Agency noted that press services are a leading force in fighting corruption, and should continue to nurture zero-tolerance culture in society to corruption. She thanked Regional Dialogue for bringing together lawyers, press services, and other interested parties to exchange views and ideas and learn of best practices in fighting corruption and upholding transparency.
Uzbekistan has been investing efforts to improve the space for media and fight corruption. It was rated 137th in the 2023 Freedom of Press Index (FPI) and 126th in the 2023 Corruption Perception Index (CPI). In 2021, it was rated 157th on FPI and 140th on CPI.