February 3rd, 2011
IRFS representatives Emin Huseynov and Rasul Jafarov held a press conference today at IRFS press center to discuss their participation in the Parliamentary Association of the Council of Europe winter session and parallel UNESCO events.

Huseynov thanked the Open Society Institute – Assistance Foundation for their financial support for the trip. He reported that they had held numerous very productive meetings during the visit and had presented reports on human rights situation in Azerbaijan. Huseynov mentioned the threat issued by parliament speaker Ogtay Asadov, who had called for ‘serious measures’ to be taken against PACE participants. He and Jafarov had drafted a response, which was sent to NGO representatives for signing.
Jafarov criticized the PACE report on last parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, on the grounds that it did not reflect the reality of what had happened. According to him, the PACE meetings focused on the media situation, the hijab ban, the arrest of religious followers, and the human rights situation in Nakhchivan.
IRFS representatives also presented at the international UNESCO symposium on freedom of expression. The symposium discussed international media problems, including assassinations and harassment of journalists. Jafarov’s speech focused on Eynulla Fatullayev’s arrest, and the defiance of the European Court of Human Rights ruling for his immediate release.
Another event held by UNESCO focused on the self-regulation of the media and new media issues. During this event, the Azerbaijani representatives asked questions about the Press Council and media ombudsman. The event participants informed them that the state budget’s share in the financing of the Council should not exceed 49%; any more could make the Council dependent upon the authorities. As for the media ombudsman, the event participants unambiguously condemned the transfer of the powers of the media ombudsman to the general ombudsman.