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The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) strongly condemns the interference in the professional work of the Azad Azerbaijan TV crew and physical assault against the TV operator and declares this as harassment against media.
Today, 1 July, the “Azad Azerbaijan” TV (ATV) crew – correspondent Zaur Zahidoğlu and operator Ramin Shahbazov were not allowed to fulfill their professional duties in the Yasamal District Military Commissariat and the operator received physical harassment.
IRFS declares that the act of preventing media representatives from doing their legal professional work 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. Furthermore, this incident creates liability under article 309.2 (abusing duty authority by using force).
IRFS notes that interference in the journalists’ legal work by using harassment and force creates a liability and perpetrators of these crimes should be held accountable according to the legislation.
IRFS calls on Azerbaijan’s government and law-enforcement organs to respect international and local laws, to create condition favorable to the normal work of journalists, and to punish those who interfere in the work of journalists and threaten them.