INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

April 6th, 2012
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) strongly
condemns the confiscation of the journalistic equipments of IRFS
reporters to Nakhchivan, Hakimeldostu Mehdiyev and Elman Abbasov, who
were carrying out their journalistic work at Sadarak Customs
Checkpoint.

Specifically, based on multiple complaints of residents against
customs officers, the journalists crossed the Turkish border and then
headed back with the view to investigate the complaints at the scene.
On their return, the customs officers confiscated the photo and video
cameras, as well as audio recorder of the journalists. As an excuse to
confiscation, the customs employees claimed that the equipments were
not mentioned in the customs declaration of journalists.

IRFS notes that Azerbaijani law does not require to include equipments
worth less than 1,000 AZN in the customs declaration. Besides, the
journalists, when crossed the border back, were not demanded to enlist
the equipments in the declaration. Moreover, they had the equipments
when they moved to Turkish side, which must have been recorded by
surveillance cameras as well.

IRFS believes that confiscation of the journalists’ equipments is
equal to hindrance in their professional activity. The ruling
establishment of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic has, for a long while,
been creating obstacles before the journalists operating in
Nakhchivan. Local and foreign journalist have repeatedly been
persecuted or deported from Nakhchivan. IRFS believes  that this
incident is part of the continued persecution and harassment of
journalists in Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.

IRFS calls on the authorities of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic and
Azerbaijan to take necessary measure in regards to the incident,
ensure the return of the journalists’ equipments and punish the
persons, who violated the journalists’ rights.