The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) strongly condemns the violence against journalists by police and plain clothed people today, 26 April, during a protest action that Azadlig bloc held, and assesses this as pressure against freedom of speech.
During an action, which was organized by the Azadlig bloc to protest against the violation of freedom of assembly, journalists faced physical violence from police and unidentified plain clothed people (most of whom are police), and police did not allow them to fulfill their professional work.
IRFS declares that the act of preventing media representatives from doing their legal professional work and filming is a violation of journalists’ rights to freely gather and distribute information. This incident contradicts article 50 (freedom of information) of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic and article 10 (Freedom of expression) of the European Convention for the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. In addition, interference in journalists’ work creates liability under article 163 (interference in journalists’ work) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan Republic.
IRFS notes that both interference in the professional work of journalists and use of physical pressure are hold liability; therefore the persons who committed these violations should be brought to responsibility as it is envisaged by law.
IRFS calls on Azerbaijan’s government and law-enforcement organs to respect international and local laws, create conditions for normal work of journalists, and punish those who interfere in the work of journalists and employ pressure against them.