July 30th, 2010

Today, 30 July, Institute for Reporters` Freedom and Safety chairman Emin Huseynov wrote an open letter to Yeni Musavat newspaper editor-in-chief Rauf Arifoglu.  Huseynov's letter calls on Arifoglu to withdraw his special format lawsuits against his colleagues. Read the complete letter below:

Mr. Editor-in-Chief,


The reason for our appeal is because your colleagues filed a special format lawsuit against Khural newspaper editor-in-chief Avaz Zeynalli and Milletim newspaper chief adviser Faramaz Novruzoglu, and they want to bring charges against them.  This is a concern for us.  We fight to abolish  defamation with local and international journalist organizations,  and yet the Editor-in-chief of the newspaper with the most circulation filed a special format lawsuit against his colleagues. The public does not welcome this.


In response to calls from local and international organizations regarding elimination of defamation articles, the authority said that our society is not ready for it.  President Ilham Aliyev`s speech regarding the 135th anniversary of the national press proved that the authority also agrees with eliminating defamation articles.  Without regard to this, you file special format lawsuits against your colleagues, and you want them to be arrested.  This action will show that not only the society, but also media, are not ready to abolish defamation articles.  This could hinder the abolition of criminal prosecution for defamation.


We will not discuss whether there were insult and defamation elements in the articles in question, and we want to emphasize that you have the constitutional right to protect your honor and dignity within the court as a citizen. However, people belonging to democratic camps within democratic countries prefer to file a civil format lawsuit opposed to a special format lawsuit.  


Recently, government representatives – Presidential Administration head Ramiz Mehdiyev and State Support Fund for the Development of Mass Media under the President of Azerbaijan Republic executive Vugar Seferli — filed lawsuits against Khural newspaper.


Generally, we believe that both sides should solve the problem with open discourse in order to prevent court lawsuits against Mass Media. If a problem is not solved in this way, a solution can be reached with journalist organizations through “comrades' court.”  If, after these steps are taken the problem remains unsolved, then a civil format lawsuit should be filed.


We want to point out that special format lawsuits under defamation within in articles have been filed against you and your newspaper at different times.  We want to emphasize that  although you support the elimination of defamation, you continue to file special format lawsuits against your colleagues.  This could help pave the way for the authority to not abolish defamation articles.


We call on you to discard the special format lawsuits against your colleagues and to solve any problems through a civil format lawsuit and mutual understanding.