INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS` FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

February 19th, 2010
The Institute for Reporters` Freedom and Safety strongly condemns the use of physical pressure against Salamnews agency correspondent Zulfugar Kheyikhabar.

Yesterday, 18 February, at noon, Zulfugar Kheyirkhabar wanted to prepare a report regarding the explosion in the Karvan teahouse in front of the University of Economics. Zaur Gafarov, who introduced himself as the owner of the café, insulted him and prevented him from implementing his work. Then, the employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations wanted to distance him from the area, said Z.Kheyirkhabar, who added that someone named Aziz hit him.  The journalist noted that he was injured as a result. Z. Kheyirkhabar faced rude treatment by an investigator named Ibrahim, and was subjected to insults in police department #9.
IRFS declares that impeding the journalist’s work and preventing them from preparing the reportage at the site of the incident is contradictory to article 50 (freedom of information) of the Constitution of Azerbaijan Republic and article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention of Human Rights.
Interference with journalists’ professional activity involves criminal responsibility under article 163 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan Republic (interference in professional work of journalists).
IRFS notes that both interference in journalists’ legal professional activity or physical pressure against them are criminal cases and therefore people behind these actions should be punished as in accordance with legislation.
IRFS calls on law enforcement organs to investigate criminal incidents against journalists and hold the perpetrators accountable.
IRFS calls on the Internal Affairs Ministry leadership also to take relevant measures concerning the investigator who mistreated the journalist in the police department.