INSTITUTE FOR REPORTERS’ FREEDOM AND SAFETY STATEMENT

May 3rd, 2011
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety is deeply concerned about the continued restrictions on freedoms of speech and expression on 3 May – World Press Freedom Day.

Specifically, prisoner of conscience, former editor-in-chief of Gundelik Azerbaycan and Realniy Azbaidjan newspapers Eynulla Fatullayev, who was arrested on trumped up charges, remains behind bars. IRFS would like to emphasize that the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the journalist was imprisoned without justification, and has ruled for his immediate release. Despite two decisions by the Council of Europe Ministerial Cabinet on the implementation of the ECHR judgment, the Azerbaijani authorities are evading the implementation.

6 years have elapsed since the murder of Monitor magazine editor-in-chief Elmar Huseynov, who was widely critical of the authorities in his writing. However, the murderers and the persons behind the crime have not been brought to justice.

The physical assaults on the journalists continued in 2011, notably examples including the abductions and beatings of  Seymur Haziyev and Ramin Deco, reporters of Azadlig daily.

 

The authorities suspended the broadcasting of RFE/RL, BBC, Voice of America radio stations on local FM frequencies in early 2009, whereby the Azerbaijani population was deprived of the right to obtain accurate information from electronic media.

 

As a result of the repressive policy pursued by the authorities on freedom of press, today, the independent media is struggling to develop. The distribution of radio frequencies is implemented under strict governmental control, which inhibits the creation of truly independent TV and radio stations. The monitoring of current TV and radio broadcasting permits us to say that this media is totally serving the authorities.

 

With the internet as the only free platform, the authorities have started implementing restrictions here, too. For example, the verdict on  bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizadeh, who were arrested in 2009 and released later, is still effective, and they are unable to leave the country. Youth activists Jabbar Savalanli and Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, marked for their active involvement on Facebook, were arrested under different charges and the court is expected to pass harsh sentences.

 

IRFS calls on the Azerbaijani government to put an end to the measures aimed at strangling freedom of press, to release imprisoned journalist, prisoner of conscience Eynulla Fatullayev, to bring the murderers of Elmar Huseynov to justice, to hold regular and transparent tenders to open new TV and radio stations, and to allow the broadcasting of foreign radios on local frequencies.

IRFS also calls on international organizations, of which Azerbaijan is a member, to increase their support for freedom of press and human rights in Azerbaijan, as well as to demand that Azerbainan implements its international obligations.