April 17th, 2009
Azerbaijan Republic President Ilham Aliyev has signed the decree on applying changes to the law “on Mass Media.” According to the decree, within one month the Cabinet of Ministers must prepare and present to the president recommendations on harmonizing existing legislative acts with the amendments made to the Law “on Mass Media” and the Cabinet of Ministers and central executive authorities must resolve all issues that arise during the harmonization of normative legal acts with the amendments to the law.

The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety contacted media rights expert, lawyer Alesger Mammedli to learn his opinion about the decree. According to Mammedli, the changes that have been accepted in connection with Article 19 of the Law “on Mass Media” contradict Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Presidential Administration Public Relations Press and Information Department Director Vugar Aliyev refused to answer questions from IRFS on this matter.
According to the amendments to Article 19 of the Law “on Mass Media,” which were originally proposed on 6 March 2009 in the Milli Melis, in the three new situations listed below, relevant government organs can appeal to the court for the revocation of production and dissemination of mass media for up to two months. These cases are:
   1. When a foreigner or some who does not have a university education is appointed to be editor of print mass media
   2. When print mass media does not within ten (10) days of publication send free, obligatory copies to relevant government agencies
   3. When mass media is brought to administrative responsibility for abusing freedom of the press or journalists’ rights, and then repeats the same violation within one year.