ROUNDTABLE HELD ON THE PROMOTION OF JOURNALIST SAFETY IN AZERBAIJAN

March 3rd, 2012
Today, a roundtable discussion was held in the fames of the “Promoting Safety and Security for Azerbaijani Journalists” project funded by IMS and implemented by IRFS.

IRFS chairman Emin Huseynov began the event with one-minute of silence to commemorate the late Monitor Magazine editor-in-chief Elmar Huseynov.

Khadija Ismayilova noted that the year following the 6th anniversary of Huseynov’s murder was hard for the media as well. “One journalist – Eynulla fatullayev was released from prison, but another 5 were put into jail. They are: Xural newspaper editor-in-chief Avaz Zeynalli, Xural reporter Aydin Janiyev, ismazeri.az website editor-in-chief Ramin Bayramov, Iran’s Sahat TV channel’s corerspondent in Azerbajian Anar Bayramli and driver of Sahar TV Azerbaijan office, Ramin Dadashov.”

Khadija Ismayilova said that in 2011, multiple journalists were subjected to physical and psychological pressures, and another journalist was lost. She emphasized the murder of writer-journalist Rafig Tagi and asked the participants of the event to commemorate him with another one-minute of silence.

IREX media lawyer Alasgar Mammadli said that the recent years have been hard for journalists in general, and blamed the authorities: “According to the official statistics 90-95% of the crimes in Azerbaijan are solved. But only 3-5% of crimes relating to journalists are solved. Besides, the last 7 years saw over 300 court hearings against journalists.”

Mammadli added that the Azerbaijani government has undertaken obligations regarding journalist safety before international organizations.

Turan News Agency Director Mehman Aliyev gave information about preventive investigation project implemented with  support from the Open Society Institute. He reported that the arrest of Avaz Zeynalli and murder of Rafig Tagi were investigated by separate public investigation groups, and relevant reports on the conclusion of the investigations were publicized.

IRFS chairman Emin Huseynov said that his organization wanted to open a three or four-digit hotline for journalists’ safety, but setup obstacles have not allowed them to do so yet. “Different excuses have been given to refused is this hotline.”

Nonetheless, IRFS will continue the struggle through the courts, Huseynov said.

At the end of the event, IRFS presented and distributed winter and summer safety jackets for journalists.