Today Media Rights Institute (MRI) held a press conference at the IRFS to announce the start of a new campaign aimed at the adoption of defamation law.
Head of MRI Rashid Hajili stated that they are going to send an appeal to president Ilham Aliyev regarding the adoption of this law, and that media and civil society organizations can join this appeal. The campaign is intended for a long period, and in order to be successful, it needs assistance of media and civil society organizations.
The reason why the campaign was started just now is the growing number of punishments and fines imposed on different media organizations based on libel, insult, and defamation charges. Khural and Azadlig newspaper have recently faced such fines. That is why the campaign is aimed at the removal of the articles that specify punishments for media organizations based on libel and defamation charges from the criminal code. Furthermore, the amounts of the fines imposed on media organizations are not calculated based on any criteria. Different media representatives, including IRFS director Emin Huseynov, IMS program manager Gulnara Akhundova, MRI coordinator Khalig Agaliyev, journalist Rovshan Hajibayli, journalist Idrak Abbasov, and OSCE representative Vusal Behbudov, spoke on the prospective effects of the adoption of defamation law on the development of free media.
It was noted that New Generation journalistic union, Media Rights Institute and the Press Council have respective draft defamation laws. According to Rasif Hajili, the draft law of the Press Council is the best. He advised to propose this draft law for adoption, as it was highly evaluated by the experts from the OSCE.
MRI plans to discuss this issue at a roundtable in the last week of June with the participation of media organizations, civil society institutes and government representatives.