Persecution of journalists in Azerbaijan – report of the Council of Europe Platform

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The Council of Europe Platform for Protection of Journalism and Safety of Media Representatives has published an annual report titled: “Press Freedom in Europe: Time to Turn the Situation Around.”

The 100-page report, prepared by international journalistic partner organizations of the Council of Europe, was presented on March 5 at a press conference in the Greek city of Thessaloniki.

The report assessed “the main threats to media freedom in the member-states of the Council of Europe, Russia and Belarus based on warnings issued in 2023 by fifteen NGOs in the field of media freedom,” the Council of Europe said in a press release.

The report also reflects the facts of persecution of journalists in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan is listed among the countries (along with France, Greece, Turkey, Hungary, Spain) where spyware (Pegasus) is used to spy on journalists.

There are also 8 cases of police attacking journalists during “coverage of demonstrations”.

Azerbaijan is also included in the section on “Impunity for Murders of Journalists.” The unsolved murders of journalist Elmar Huseynov and publicist Rafig Tagi are cited as examples.

In Azerbaijan, journalists are subjected to short-term detention while carrying out their work. In particular, in the village of Soyudlu of Gadabey region in summer of 2023, after protests by the local population. At the same time, the police restricted entry to the village and prevented the work of journalists.

The report also refers to cases of administrative arrests of journalists in Azerbaijan “in retaliation for their work.” These are the arrests of Vugar Mammadov (Hurriyyet TV), Nurlan Gahramanly (freelancer), Veli Shukurzade (photojournalist).

The report also mentions the case of Abzas Media journalists arrested on charges of “smuggling foreign currency.”

The following is a list of journalists and bloggers who are under arrest in the countries of the Council of Europe. There are 55 such people in total, 16 of them in Azerbaijan.

Names in the list are as follows: Arshad Ibragimov (website ), Aslan Gurbanov (blogger), Avaz Zeynally ( ), Aziz Orujev (Kanal-13), Elnara Gasymova (Abzas Media), Elnur Shukyurov (Səda TV), Hafiz Babaly (Turan agency), Ibrahim Shukyurov (azerinfo, Mohammed Kekalov (Abzas Media), Nargiz Absalamova (Abzas Media), Osman Narimanoglu (website ), Polad Aslanov (website ), Rashad Ramazanov (blogger), Sevinj Vagifgizy (Abzas Media), Ulvi Hasanli (Abzas Media), Shamo Emin (Kanal 13).

The report recommends that the Council of Europe urge Azerbaijan and Turkey to “return to dialogue with the Council of Europe Journalists’ Safety Platform.”

The authors recommended that the Council of Europe develop mechanisms to strengthen the protection of journalists and media freedom. The Council of Europe is also invited to act decisively to ensure that member- states comply with the decisions of the ECHR and seek the immediate release of those unjustly arrested, investigate reports of threats to journalists and adopt national action plans to ensure the safety of journalists.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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