PACE CALLS ON AZERBAIJANI GOVERNMENT TO IMPROVE MEDIA FREEDOM

June 16th, 2010
Draft resolution for the summer session of PACE to be held on 21-24 June, which was prepared by co-rapporteurs on Azerbaijan Andres Herkel, and Joseph Debono Grech, is ready. The document assesses the situation of media and journalists in the country.

The Assembly welcomes the release of several imprisoned journalists In Azerbaijan; however expresses regret that Novruzali Mammadov, a researcher and editor-in-chief of the only Talysh-language newspaper, Tolyshi Sado, died in prison in August and is concerned that several journalists including two youth activists, Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade, remain behind bars.    
“The Assembly is also concerned by the often disproportionate character of criminal sanctions imposed on some journalists in defamation cases and reiterates its position that defamation should be decriminalized,” the resolution reads. “The Assembly calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to: release Eynulla Fatullayev as ordered by the European Court of Human Rights notwithstanding the appeal by the Azerbaijani authorities to the Grand Chamber of the Court, procedure which is pending and create the conditions for journalists to conduct their professional work without interference by the authorities.”