Government Appeals to Court to Block Several Critical Websites

April 27th, 2017

On 27 April,Sabail District Court launched judicial proceedings on the application of the Electronic Security Centre (ESC) under the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies seeking to block several websitesin the territory of Azerbaijan. ESC has appealed to the court to block the critical websites azadliq.info, azadliq.org, azerbaycansaati.com and meydan.tv, as well as theAzerbaijani Hour television programs. More than 30 representatives of mass media, civil society and diplomatic corps wanted to observe the hearing presided over by Judge Nuraddin Bagirov, but only a limited number of people were granted access. The court bailiffs allowed only one journalist and four diplomatic corps representatives to watch the hearing, excusing it by the smallness of the courtroom.

At the hearing, the lawyers noted that the heads of the websitesrequested had not been served with a copy of the application or The judge presented a copy of the application to Radio Azadliq’s (Radio Liberty’s)representative Adil Ismayilov, representative of Azadliq newspaper’s website azadliq.info Samad Rahimli and Meydan TV’s representative Elchin Sadigov in the courtroom. However, the documents attached to the application were not presented to the defence counsels.

The attached documents were the appeal submitted by the Prosecutor General’s Office to the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies, and the Ministry’s decision.The prosecutor’s office appealed to the Ministry to take measures against the above mentioned websites, and attached articles published on the websites.

The Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies , in turn,took

The lawyers and jurists representing the websites requested that, alongside with the application, the appeal of the Prosecutor General’s Office, the articles that have led to the appeal and the Ministry’s decision be presented to them, as well.The judge noted that the relevant documents would be served upon them.

Although both hearing the latter was told that he could not participate in the proceedingsdue to his lack of a power of attorney.

The judge allowed time for the applicant’s representative to present his power of attorney, as well as for the materials to be served upon on the opposite party for familiarisation.

The proceedings will continue on 1 May.

Recall that, the provision on websites’ blockage by a state agency has been recently introduced to the legislation. Milli Meclis (Parliament) madean addition ation and Protection of Information ,

In particular, on an internet information resource or determinesit

Unless the prohibited information is removed from the internet information resource within 8 hours of warning, the relevant executive authority shall appeal to , where it is located, e internet information resource.

In casesofurgency where there isa threat for the interests of the state or society protected by law or a real danger for the life and health of people,access to the internet information resourceshall .

At the same time of adopting the specified decision, the relevant executive authority shall alsoappeal to court to restrict access to the internet information resource.The decision on temporary restriction of access to the internet information resource shall remain in force until the appeal for restriction of access to the internet information resource is considered or the decision is overturned by court.

The court shall consider the appeal to restrict access to the internet information resource within 5 days and make a decision.The decision shall become effective immediately after its adoption and an appeal filed against the decision shall not suspend its enforcement.