The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) strongly condemns adoption of the amendments and annexes to the constitutional law on Azerbaijan’s Human Rights Commissioner (Ombudsman) by the Azerbaijani Parliament on 21 December, 2010. With adoption of these amendments and annexes, the establishment of Media Ombusdman’s Office and appointing a media ombudsman, both of which were promised in the 2005 Law on the right to obtain information, were not implemented.
According to the amendments and annexes to the constitutional law on Azerbaijan’s Human Rights Commissioner (Ombudsman) submitted by the President to the Azerbaijani Parliament, the powers of media ombudsman are transferred to the human rights ombudsman.
IRFS believes that the current human rights ombudsman is believed by some to be indirectly controlled by the government. Instead of granting additional power to the current ombudsman, it would be better to improve its operation in terms of the effective protection of human rights.
IRFS also believes that refusal to establish a media ombudsman’s office once again proves that Azerbaijani government is not interested in ensuring freedom of information.
IRFS calls on Azerbaijani government to withdraw the aforementioned amendments to the constitutional law and establish an independent Media Ombudsman’s Office.