IRFS’s new report, Media in a Chokehold, provides in-depth look at Azerbaijan broadcast media sector

BAKU, March 29, 2013 Lack of vibrant, pluralistic broadcast media has devastating consequences for free expression and constitutes a clear violation of Azerbaijani’s people right to information, according to both domestic and international legal obligations, claims a new report by Baku-based media watchdog, Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS).

The release of the report, “Media in a Chokehold: Azerbaijan Broadcast Media Assessment” comes just weeks after public outrage over the opposition youth activists’ televised confessions on the alleged crimes, in violation of  internationally recognized standards.

The 37-page report—which combines desk study, legal analysis, discussion of the context, and most importantly media monitoring results—presents the findings of a joint project conducted by the media professionals and experts, who worked together to research, author, and release it.

As this report shows, freedom of expression in general and pluralism in the national broadcast media in particular are under serious threat in Azerbaijan.

“When a country takes on the responsibility to guarantee freedom of expression conditions before international community and its people, it cannot turn around and undermine the rights of the people it was established to serve,” said Emin Huseynov, CEO and Chairman of IRFS. “We call on the government to respect Azerbaijani people and guarantee their constitutional right to free information and freedom of expression”, he said.

The IRFS and authors involved hope that the report will contribute to real policy changes by compelling Azerbaijan’s government, the National TV and Radio Council, and other entities to understand that they are legally obligated to respect, protect, and fulfill those Azerbajjani’s people right to free information.

IRFS reiterates its call on the authorities to stop curtailing these rights and to take immediate action to address this situation in accordance with the country’s international obligations.

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