INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

March 18th, 2011
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety assesses today’s police control of its office as a pressure of the government against a human rights organizaton and strongly condemns it.

Specifically, today, 18 March 2011, a press conference was held at IRFS press center to discuss the recent arrests of youth activists who were sentenced to days of administrative detention. One hour prior to the event scheduled for 12pm, the police took control of the office, and a high ranking police officer questioned IRFS Chairman Emin Huseynov regarding the activities of the organization. The entrances and exits of the office were blocked by plain clothed and uniformed police. Moreover, there were dozens of police employees and undercover agents in Khagani and Rashid Behbudov streets, where the office is located.
IRFS notes that it is not the firs affair of this kind and a simiar incident happened in January 19, 2011, when even the Baku City Chief Police Office Head Yashar Aliyev was in the area as well. At tha time IRFS chairmn Emin Huseynov sent an open letter to Interior Minister Ramil Usubov.
IRFS believes that these measures are aiming to intimidate rights defenders and media representatives and keep them under fear. In addition these measures also serve to strangle freedom of expression.
IRFS calls on the Azerbaijani government, particularly the law-enforcement agencies, to refrain from such repression and provide a normal environment for rights defenders and journalists to operate in. IRFS calls on the international community, particularly the diplomatic corps leadership of democratic countries in Azerbaijan to make efforts for the elimination of such cases in Azerbaijan.