INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

August 4th, 2009
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety strongly condemns the pressure by the employees of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic National Security Ministry and Internal Affairs Ministry against local journalists trying to monitor President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.

Yesterday, 3 August, Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety Nakhchivan regional correspondents Hakimeldostu Mehdiyev and Elman Abbasov and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Turan News Agency correspondent Malahet Nasibova and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty photo-correspondent Ilgar Nasibov, who wanted to monitor President Ilham Aliyev’s visit to Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, were not permitted to participate in the events carried out with president’s participation, and photos and video materials recorded by the correspondents were deleted by civil clothed people. Then the employees of Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic National Security Ministry and Head of Political Department of the Ministry Anar Gulmammadov came up to the journalists and accused them in conducting illegal filming, and insisted that they give up their photo and video cameras. The correspondents had no choice but give their cameras to NSM employees. The cameras were returned to the journalists only after their recorded material was erased of the cameras.
In addition, freedom of movement of IRFS Nakhcivan employees was violated during morning hours. At 10:00 a.m. the correspondents wanted to leave the office to gather information in connection with the visit of President Ilham Aliyev when they were detained by civil clothed people. The correspondents asked them about their identity and they said (verbally) they were the employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Nakhchivan AR. The journalists were ordered to stay away from the areas where the president would conduct events.
IRFS states that NSM employees’ intrusion in conducting filming and photographing by the journalists violates Article 50 of Azerbaijan’s Constitution (Expression Freedom), Article 10 of the European Convention (Freedom of Expression), and Article 163 of Azerbaijan Criminal Code (interference in the professional work of journalist).
IRFS calls on Azerbaijan’s government, especially on Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, to create conditions for the journalists to fulfill their professional duty and to freely obtain and disseminate information.