INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

November 8th, 2010
Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) strongly condemns the prevention of journalists from doing their professional work by members of the Election Commissions, police and representatives of other executive structures during the 7 November 2010 parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan.

Employees of Azadlig, Yeni Musavat and Ayna-Zerkalo newspapers, Liberty Radio, IRFS, Turan Information Agency and other mass media representatives, all of whom were observing the voting results across several constituencies, faced serious harrassment. The journalists were prevented from filming. Journalists observing some election precincts were forcibly expelled from the election precincts with the help of police officers. In some cases, the journalists were taken to the police station. IRFS observer Nizami Jafarov was also taken to the police station, where he was detained for 5 hours. He observer status was revoked without any justification being given.

IRFS would like to point out that note-taking during the voting process was strictly forbidden, a rule that was not in place for the 2005 parliamentary elections. Moreover, the Central Election Commission's claim that on online observation was operated across 500 election precincts was false. An IRFS investigation revealed that online observation of elections through this service was impossible.

Taking into consideration the aforementioned facts, IRFS states that the Azerbaijani laws on mass media and information gathering were seriously violated.

In addition, IRFS monitored voting in Binagadi election constituency #9, Yasamal election constituency #1, Yasamal second election constituency #16, Yasamal third election constituency #17 and Surakhani second election constituency #31. IRFS employees revealed that other observers faced serious problems as well. All these facts cast doubts on the results of these parliamentary elections.

IRFS calls on the Azerbaijani government to take into account all the law violations that occured and to punish the persons who committed illegal actions against mass media representatives and other observers.