INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS` FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

March 2nd, 2010
The Institute for Reporters` Freedom and Safety (IRFS) condemns the Azerbaijani government for its failure to solve the murder of “Monitor” Journal Editor-in-Chief Elmar Huseynov as five years have passed since the incident.

Azerbaijan’s administration claimed that the assassination was carried out by two Azerbaijanis who have Georgian citizenship, but did not unveil who ordered Huseynov’s murder. They justify the failure to bring the alleged executors of the murder – Teymuraz Aliyev and Tahir Khubanov to justice with the lack of a relevant agreement between Georgia and Azerbaijan regarding the extradition of criminals.
Even after he was murdered, Elmar Huseynov remained an undesirable figure for the government. Countless appeals addressed to the leadership of the country from society to commemorate Elmar’s memory did not yield any results. This is the clear evidence of the Azerbaijani government’s attitude toward Elmar Huseynov’s memory. Although no journalist has been murdered following this incident, there were attempts on their lives, and they faced imprisonment and other kinds of harassment.
During the last five years, 20 journalists have been thrown into jail for their journalism work. Four of them – Ganimat Zahid, Eynulla Fatullayev, Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade still remain imprisoned. As a result of government’s intolerance for freedom of speech, several restrictive amendments and changes were made to the Constitution through a referendum and to several legislative acts during these years.
In light of these, IRFS does not rule out the possibility that high-ranking officials of Azerbaijan’s administration stand behind Elmar Huseynov’s murder.
IRFS calls on Azerbaijan’s administration to closely cooperate with neighbor countries’ law enforcement organs in order to investigate Elmar’s murder objectively and to hold responsible every guilty party in this murder.
IRFS declares that the political responsibility of this crime will remain on Azerbaijan’s government’s shoulders as a black stain as long as this criminal case remains unsolved.
IRFS calls on the Azerbaijani government to punish those who are responsible for the journalist’s murder, immediately release imprisoned journalists, and adopt laws that will strengthen and improve freedom of speech in the country.