Mass Media to Face Censorship and Restriction during Martial Law Periods

February 17th, 2017

Milli Meclis (Parliament) has discussed the newly redrafted law on martial law. First deputy chairman of Milli Meclis, chairman of Defence, Security and Anti-Corruption Committee Ziyafet Asgarov gave information on the bill.

Unlike the Law on Martial Law currently in force that consists of 5 chapters and 17 articles, the new bill will comprise six chapters and 27 articles. The draft states that the head of the state shall apply to the parliament for the announcement of martial law in the country, and Milli Meclis shall consider this issue and make a decision within 72 hours. This deadline is proposed to be reduced to 48 hours.

Other issues included in the bill are about the application of military regime rules by all agencies when martial law is declared. The bill also covers matters such as the establishment of military commandant’s offices, the non-relocation of the population during the martial law, etc.

The bill also reads that military censorship shall be applied in the country at times of martial law. Military censorship includes prior coordination of the information and materials of the mass media with military authorities, state agencies and their officials, and surveillance of correspondences, television and radio broadcasting, telephone and radio communications to prevent the illegal distribution of the information constituting a state secret.

The new bill provides for submitting recommendations to relevant agencies for the introduction of a special operating mode of mass media outlets in the area/s under martial law, or restriction/suspension of their activities if there are legitimate grounds to do this. It also envisages military censorship of the media reports and materials, the creation of military censorship bodies to that end, and supervision of social media, electronic correspondence, and telephone and radio conversations.

The draft law also provides for the prohibition or restriction of gatherings, rallies, street processions, demonstrations and pickets, as well as other public events during the periods of martial law.

Article 13 of the law establishes the inadmissibility of holding referendum, elections or local opinion polls during the martial law.

The full text of the bill is available here (in Azerbaijani):
http://meclis.gov.az/?/az/law/1307/2