On March 02, journalists in Azerbaijan and around the world will mark the eighth anniversary of the unsolved murder of Monitor editor-in-chief Elmar Huseynov, who was fatally gunned down in his apartment building in a well-organized attack. On this occasion the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) calls for the authorities to bring the perpetrators and masterminds of Elmar Huseynov’s murder to justice, and to take immediate action to improve freedom of expression in Azerbaijan.
With Elmar’s death, the Azerbaijani people lost a voice that courageously sought to report the truth. His case has become deeply symbolic, reminding the Azerbaijani media community of the courage needed to pursue investigative journalism and of the inherent risks associated with this work.
When Huseynov was killed, President Aliyev immediately condemned the crime, calling it a barbaric act aimed at destabilizing the country ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled that fall (2005). He pledged the murder would be solved within 40 days and invited the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Turkish agents to join the probe. However a few months later, Azerbaijan refused from the assistance by Turkish and US law-enforcement agencies, assigning the duty of continuing the investigation to the Ministry of National Security. Eight years on, the Azerbaijani authorities have failed to adequately investigate Elmar’s murder and do not demonstrate will to solve this case.
Today Elmar Huseynov has become one of the main symbols of freedom of speech and expression in Azerbaijan. While those behind Elmar’s brutal killing remain free all journalists are forced to work in the shadow of fear. Elmar’s case has come to epitomize the impunity with which authoritarian regime conspires to silence journalists.
On the eighth anniversary of Huseynov’s murder, IRFS once again calls:
- On the Azerbaijani authorities to fulfill their international and domestic legal obligations to guarantee freedom of expression.
- On the Azerbaijani authorities to detain and prosecute the masterminds who ordered the killings of Elmar Huseynov as well as those who carried out the attack.
- On the Azerbaijani authorities to make public all information related to Huseynov’s murder.
- On the Azerbaijani authorities to end all forms of impunity for those who attack or kill journalists and ensure that all cases of violence against journalists are resolved and all guilty parties are punished in accordance with the law.
- On governments and civil society across Europe and U.S. to call upon the Azerbaijani government and law enforcement agencies to end all forms of impunity for violence against journalists and ensure that all cases are adequately investigated and those responsible are brought to justice.