July 24th, 2008

“Law in free society is supposed to protect information flow, not to suppress it.

Slander shouldn’t be considered a crime. Journalists shouldn’t be subjected to threats, problems, beatings, pressure or arrests. All cases of violence aimed at journalists should be considered aggression directed toward a civilian and be judged as so,” said U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan Anne Derse, after she has received the “Journalists’ Friend” award.

Then Derse stated that journalists have big responsibilities and they shouldn’t turn their work into a tool in the hands of social and political interests. “However, we believe that even if such cases occur, the existence of irresponsible journalism cannot justify pressure against media,” added the ambassador.

Today (24 July) presentation of the “Journalists’ Friend” award was conducted. The Head of Civil and Political Rights Center Parviz Hashimli opened the event and explained that the winners were chosen according to survey conducted among journalists. U.S. ambassador to Azerbaijan Anne Derse took the first place. Second place was given to Council of Europe Parliament Assembly Co-rapporteur on Azerbaijan Andreas Herkel and third place was given to Reporters Without Borders organization. Hashimli emphasized that the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) received a lot of votes among local organizations. According to Hashimli, the journalists answered questions about which organizations’ and which persons’ work they positive assessed with regards to the protection of speech and press freedom.

During the event all public representatives, journalists and parliamentarians said that Derse deserves this award and congratulated her. The ambassador said it was a honor for her to receive this award.