IRFS APPEALS TO U.S. HELSINKI COMMISSION ON EVE OF HEARING ABOUT AZERBAIJAN

July 28th, 2008
Today the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety addressed an appeal to the U.S. Helsinki Commission in connection with the hearing scheduled for tomorrow about Azerbaijan and upcoming presidential elections.

In the appeal, IRFS notes that human rights and socio-political situations here are poor, says that urgent steps are needed to set Azerbaijan back on the path of democratization. In particular, IRFS notes the monopoly over the broadcast media, wrongfully imprisoned journalists, erroneous presidential decree on the law on mass media, use of violence against journalists and human rights activists, and the country’s failure to fulfill international obligations, as some of the major issues that the commission needs to compel the Azerbaijan government to address.
In closing IRFS calls on the Helsinki Commission and the U.S. government to urgently take more resolute steps to compel the Azerbaijan government to fulfill its obligations to the international community and ensure that the human rights envisaged in the European Convention on Human Rights and Universal Declaration of Human Rights are ensured for all citizens. The organization also requests that the commission demand the immediate release of Azerbaijan’s four wrongfully imprisoned journalists, the annulment of President Ilham Aliyev’s decree on the law on mass media, the invalidation of the tender results involving AZTV, the transformation of AZTV into a second public TV station, and the prosecution of the law enforcement officials behind the attacks on IRFS Chairman Emin Huseynov, “Azadlig” Newspaper journalist Agil Khalil and countless other journalists, human rights activists and Azerbaijani citizens.