MEDIA RIGHTS INSTITUTE UNVEILS REPORT ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION SITUATION

July 22nd, 2011
Situation of freedom of expression still remains garve, says the 6-month report released by Media Rights Institute. “ Unfortunately, the Day of National Press – 22 July, is not felt in the country,” said the Institute director Rashid Hajili during a press conference today.

He said that there should be freedom of expression in the country to feel the existence of national press. According to the monitorings of the Media Institute held within past years, the situation regardomg the legal sitatuation, professional acitivity of journalists and freedom of expression. Media Rights Institute representative Khalid Agaliyev noted that the report covers analysis of the legal framework of right to freedom of expression, court proceedings, physical and psychological pressures on journalists, right to obtain information, freedom of internet and regulation of TV and radio sphere. According to him, the biggest event of the past 6 months is the release of journalist Eynulla Fatullayev from prison.
27 court cases regarding freedom of expression continued in the reporting period. Majority of the court lawsuits and complaints against the journalists were filed by so-called public figures. A total of 630,000 AZN were demanded in court cases from the journalists, and criminal punishment was demanded for 6 journalists. Khural is the newspaper facing more compensation cases.
Agalyev said that physical and psychological pressures on the journalist continued in the 6-month of 2011. Specifically, over 50 journalists faced harrassment. Of these pressure, the most scandalous one was the physical harrasment of 6 foreign journalists in the past 6 months.
Journalists faced pressures while getting information during mass protests and open meetings.  
Media Institute representative said that, freedom of information situation is not encouraging either.  Namely, inquiries were sent to Parliament, courts, executives,  Executive Power of Baku city, Ministries and banks.  Only 56 of 147 inquiries were responded to. Internet speed and service quality is low in the regions.  The government continue to put restcrictions on Internet as well.
The people’s main tool of access for information is through TV and radio, which is not able to meet this demand. Specifically, the National TV and Radio Council committed legal violations during the competition for the empty frequencies. The report also reflects recommendations on improvement of the freedom of expression situation. They include implementation of awareness-raising measures, improvement of legislation and ensuring of transparent procedures.