The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) strongly condemns the violence against journalists by police and plain clothed people today, 30 April, during a youth protest action held in front of Azerbaijan State Oil Academy and assesses this as pressure against freedom of speech.
The youth wanted to hold a remembrance for victims of terror committed in ASOA on 30 April, 2009. The police and the plain clothed people hindered the journalists’ work and used psychical pressure against them. These people who were pretending to be citizens used violence against several journalists.
IRFS recalls that journalists were subjected to pressure during actions held on 14 and 26 April and expresses concern that similar incidents are occurring more frequently.
IRFS evaluates these cases as a violation of law and 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 the Azerbaijan Republic.
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.