Azerbaijani Parliament Approves Bill Restricting Online Speech

November 29th, 2016

mm

At its plenary meeting, the Azerbaijani Parliament (Milli Majlis) approved amendments to Articles 148 and 323 of the Criminal Code, which significantly restrict freedom of expression online. The amendments were submitted to Parliament by Prosecutor General Zakir Garalov on 15 November. Garalov’s draft proposal to the Milli Majlis entailed the addition of Article 148-1 (posting slander or insult on an internet information resource by using fake user names, profiles or accounts) of the Criminal Code. Under the new article, the offence described shall be punishable by a fine of 1000-1500 AZN, community service for 360 to 480 hours, corrective labour for up to 2 years, or imprisonment for up to 1 year.

Garalov also submitted a proposal to Milli Majlis to expand Article 323.1 (smearing or humiliating the honour and dignity of the head of the Azerbaijani state – the President of the Azerbaijan Republic – in public statement, publicly shown product, or mass media) of the Criminal Code. He suggested adding Article 323.1-1 to the law. The text of the proposed article reads as follows: “The actions specified in Article 323.1, if committed publicly on the internet information resource by using fake user names, profiles or accounts, shall be punishable by a fine of 1000 to 1500 AZN or imprisonment for up to 3 years.”