IRFS condemns suspended sentence of Gundam Khabar newspaper editor

May 21st, 2013

Statement

The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) condemns the 3-year suspended sentence and  70,000 euros fine handed down to editor-in-chief of Gundam Khabar newspaper Shirin Jafari. IRFS believes that Jafari’s trial was politically motivated  and therefore calls for Jafari’s conviction to be quashed.

According to information provided to IRFS, on 20 May Jafari was found guilty of tax evasion pursuant to Article 213.2.2. of the Criminal Code, received suspended 3-year sentence and fined approximately 70,000 euros.

With 7 journalists behind bars, Azerbaijan is the South Caucasus’s biggest prison for journalists. IRFS urges the authorities to stop imposing prison sentences, even suspended ones, on journalists. IRFS strongly believes that fines and suspended sentences are both forms of criminal punishment and both leave the journalist with the stigma of a criminal record. Although preferable to a jail sentence, a suspended sentence encourages self-censorship and is another method of preventing journalists from practicing their profession.