Today, on December 1st, Institute for Reporters` Freedom and Safety Chairman Emin Huseynov held a press conference at the Azerbaijan Media Center to speak about the refusal of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies to provide a 3-digit hotline number for the purpose of guarantee of effective protection of Freedom of Expression.

The IRFS Chairman said that they have sent a lawsuit filed against the Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies to Baku Administrative Economic Court #2, asking them to ban the illegal action of the state body, and discrimination.
“As an organization which defends human rights as well as the rights of journalists, we appealed to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies on April 22, 2011 asking them to provide a 3-digit (911) hotline number for the protection of journalists` rights. The Ministry said that we cannot provide IRFS with a 3-digit hotline number according to “Telecommunication laws”. However, our organization has sent an appeal to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies noting that there is nothing in the law which bans the provision to our organization of an emergency 3-digit number,” said Huseynov.
The ministry originally said that they can provide IRFS with another 3-digit number but not 911, however later changed their mind and requested that IRFS demonstrate international precedent for giving an non-governmental organization an emergency 3-digit number.
“We told ministry that we are ready to pay 2800 AZN for allocation and use of any number allocated by the Ministry and to pay 840 AZN annually for the upkeep of the number. International Media Support allocated financial support to our organization for creation of hotline,” continued Huseynov.
E. Huseynov also noted that IRFS prepared requested the number from the Ministry on August 10th, but did not receive a response for two months.
“In response to multiple inquiries and appeals, representatives from Ministry said that they are not able to allocate a 3-digit number to our organization according to international practice. However, we have investigated and determined that Ministry allocated short numbers to limited liability corporations–Neptun S LLC (162), Embawood LLC (126), Service LLC (118), CARGO.AZ LLC (166), Veyseloglu LLC (924), AzTexServis LLC (929), EuroMed Company LLC (939), Modern Hospital LLC (949), HB Co LTD  LLC (959), Azerin LLC (188), Smart Systems Technology MMM (160), AzeriKard LLC (194), and Az-Euro Tel LLC (197). I would like to note that majority of the short numbers allocated by the Ministry are not operating. Some of the numbers are used for fax. The Ministry allocated a 3-digit number (130) to an individual, Eyvazova Ayten Ali,  but it is not clear what is the job of this person. That number is also not in operation,” added the IRFS Chairman.
IRFS lawyer Gunay Ismayilova said that IRFS sent an information inquiry to the Ministry on October 27th asking them to provide information regarding the reason that several of the numbers allocated by ministry are not operating, why some of them are being used for faxes, and what are the activities of the LLC and individual who received these numbers.

“The  Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies responded to inquiry incompletely, and IRFS  filed a lawsuit in Baku Administrative Economic Court # 2, demanding that the court should force the Ministry to provide complete information, as required by law. The case was received for execution by Judge Rana Huseynova and court lawsuit will begin in the coming days,” noted lawyer Gunay Ismayilova.

Emin Huseynov also added that there is a great need for such a hot line, as evidenced by constant pressure on journalists, and Rafig Tagi`s death. In such a situation, the creation of hotline is very important to help ensure journalist safety, and allow them to contact IRFS quickly.

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