INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

October 16th, 2009
The Institute for Reporter’s Freedom and Safety (IRFS) regrets the Government’s failure to conduct an investigation into the mass assault against journalists from incidents which took place on 16 October, 2003, and calls on Azerbaijan’s government to bring the ones who used force against journalists to justice. 

On 16 October, a day after the 15 October 2003 presidential elections were held, the police employees, soldiers of the Internal Army, specially trained people in black uniforms, and civil clothed people used physical pressure against protestors and journalists. The rights of journalists, as stipulated in local and international legal acts like 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) were violated.

Although international organizations appealed to the Azerbaijani government repeatedly to find and punish those who used pressure against those journalists who were simply doing their work and gathering information, no result has been achieved in this direction up to this day.

IRFS emphasizes that, as a result of this impunity for the perpetrators of the 2003 incident, the physical pressure against the journalists during the past six years by the Law Enforcement Organs has not been slowed, but has in fact increased on a daily basis.

IRFS calls on the Azerbaijan Government to show strong political will and find and punish those who put physical pressure against journalists.