INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

June 30th, 2009
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) condemns the failure to permit the Civil Society Defense Committee to hold a picket in connection with a packet of proposed amendments to the Azerbaijan Republic’s laws on Non-governmental Organizations, Mass Media and police pressure against the journalists and NGO representatives today.

First, civil clothed people who did not introduce themselves attempted to interfere with professional work of journalists and wanted to prevent them from taking photos and filming. Then they countered the action participants who wanted to walk towards Milli Mejlis and used physical pressure against them. As a result of physical pressure, Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety Chairman Emin Huseynov’s handbag was torn. Police attempted to hinder the accredited employee of “Radio Liberty” from going towards Milli Mejlis.
IRFS declares that this police interference in taking photos and filming and the failure to permit the media representatives to go near the parliament building violate the journalists’ right to information freedom.
IRFS believes that these actions represent violations of freedom of expression, which is envisaged in Article 50 of Azerbaijan’s Constitution and Article 10 of the European Convention (Freedom of Expression), as well as Article 163 of Azerbaijan Criminal Code (interference in the professional work of journalist). In addition, failure to permit NGO representatives to assemble to express their protest and to let the participants chant slogans and conduct a peaceful picket violate articles 58 and 49 of Azerbaijan’s Constitution (Freedom of Association and Assembly), and Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (Freedom of Expression).     

IRFS calls for Azerbaijan’s government to respect legislation, to not violate people’s rights to freedom assembly and expression, and to create conditions for journalists to fulfill their professional work and citizens to freely assemble and express themselves.