On 23 December the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) Public Union submitted an application to the General Department of Registration and Notary of the Ministry of Justice for state registration of the fact of election of the organisation’s new chairperson and deputy chairperson. The protocol of IRFS General Assembly, held in Tbilisi, Georgia on 27 November, the list of the Union’s members, copies of the identity cards of the Union’s chairperson, deputy chairperson and other Board members, and a factsheet describing the organisation’s current legal status were attached to the application.
The protocol of the General Assembly submitted to the Ministry of Justice provides comprehensive information about the election of the new chairperson, deputy chairperson, and the members of the Board of Directors and the Supervision and Inspection Commission. According to the results of the election, Mehman Huseynov, a well-known Azerbaijani journalist and blogger was elected as IRFS’s new chairman. Renowned investigative journalist Hafiz Babali was elected as Vice Chairman.
Mehman Huseynov has been a member of the IRFS since 2006. He was also a member of the IRFS Board in 2012-2014. Mehman Huseynov is the editor-in-chief and lead correspondent of SANCAQ socio-political magazine disseminated over Facebook, Youtube and Instagram. Mehman Huseynov’s photo and video reports have been pivotal in terms of raising awareness of political and social problems in Azerbaijan. His Facebook blog, Sancaq Production, reaches more than a thousand communities in Azerbaijan. Overall, he is followed by more than half a million social network users on a daily basis. His journalism makes a difference, as it very often helps resolve issues and hold officials accountable.
Mehman Huseynov served as the coordinator of the Sing for Democracy campaign that was founded in 2011 to draw attention to human rights violations ahead of the Eurovision 2012 song contest hosted by Baku. He is systematically persecuted by the government of Azerbaijan for his active journalistic and human rights activities. In 2012, a fabricated criminal case was launched against him and he has been banned from leaving the country ever since. For this very reason, Mehman Huseynov was unable to take part in the IRFS general assembly held in Tbilisi.
Hafiz Babali, who was elected Vice Chairman, has been the member of the organisation since 2006. Hafiz Babali previously served as a board member during the period of 2010 to 2014. He first joined IRFS in 2006.
Babali is an investigative journalist at Turan News Agencyin Baku, Azerbaijan. Turan News Agency is one of the first independent media outlets in Azerbaijan. In his new role as Vice Chairman, Babali aims to strengthen the investigative journalism component of IRFS’s work.
“We congratulate and welcome the new members of IRFS’s Board of Directors,” said Emin Huseynov, founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IRFS. “They each bring extensive knowledge and diverse experience in the field of human rights and professional journalism, and we are honoured to have them as members of the Board. These brave men and women will continue to provide strong leadership that furthers IRFS’s mission of protecting freedom of expression and freedom of the media.”
The board appointed Emin Huseynov for a second term as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), after he rebuilt the organisation following the 2014 crackdown by the Azerbaijani government.
Huseynov founded IRFS in 2006 and served as Chairman of the Board from 2006 to 2014. Huseynov had to step down from his role as Chairman after he was illegally stripped of his Azerbaijani citizenship.
Within five working days from today, i.e. the date of submission of the protocol of the General Assembly to the Ministry of Justice, the relevant changes must be registered by the Ministry of Justice and the relevant extract must be issued about this to IRFS’s new chairperson Mehman Huseynov from the state registry of legal entities.
The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) is a local Azerbaijani NGO founded on World Press Freedom Day in 2006 by two Azerbaijani journalists, in response to growing government restrictions on freedom of expression and freedom of press. IRFS has been a member of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) since October 2007 and Global Network Initiative (GNI) since November 2012.
IRFS envisages a region where citizens are free to speak freely, to be heard, and to participate in decision making. IRFS is committed to unlimited access to a diverse and independent news media.
IRFS believes that, without freedom of expression, democracy and development cannot happen. Therefore IRFS’ mission is to protect and improve freedom of expression in Azerbaijan.