SITUATION OF FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN AZERBAIAN ASSESED NEGATIVELY IN WINTER SESSION OF PACE

January 28th, 2010
Yesterday, 27 January, in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the situation of media in the Council of Europe member countries was discussed, according to Radio Liberty.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Special Rapporteur on Azerbaijan Andreas Herkel said that journalists are subjected to physical pressures, defamation in addition to being murdered. Mr. Herkel expressed his concern about the situation of media in Azerbaijan.
The Head of Azerbaijan Delegation at PACE Samad Seyidov said that absolutely free media exists in Azerbaijan. “There is good condition for media, the price of internet has been lowered and there are 7 television stations and more than 3 thousand press organs in Azerbaijan,” emphasized Samadov.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Miklos Haraszti did not agree with S.Seyidov`s opinion regarding “the existence of absolutely free media in Azerbaijan.”
Miklos Haraszti stressed that two famous opposition and independent editors-in-chief (Azadlig Newspaper Editor-in-chief Ganimat Zahid and Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan Newspapers’ Editor-in-chief Eynulla Fatullayev) remain imprisoned.
“One of them was convicted for hooliganism and the other was convicted under the article of tax evasion and threatening terror. Recently 0.2 grams heroin was found in his cell allegedly. Law Enforcement Organs should stop arresting journalists over charges not related to journalism,” added M.Haraszti.
Yesterday, in the press conference held in Strasburg, Haraszti said that the situation of press freedom has deteriorated in Azerbaijan, according to Turan Information Agency. Haraszti said that journalists are prosecuted under false criminal charges by Law Enforcement Organs in Azerbaijan and as example he cited the criminal case against   youth bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade. Harszti added that during the past six years, as the OSCE Special Representative on Freedom of Media he has visited Azerbaijan several times and met with President Ilham Aliyev three times. But the situation has deteriorated in the area of the freedom of the media.
Haraszti noted that the freedom of press situation has seriously deteriorated in Nakhchivan, “If there are elements of authoritarian management in Azerbaijan, Nakhchivan is completely ruled by authoritarian.”
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Rapporteur on freedom of Mass Media, British Parliamentarian Andrew McIntosh said that when he visited Baku 2 years ago President Ilham Aliyev convinced him that there is not any problem and any existing problems will be solved within six months. “But the situation has not changed during the last two years,” said McIntosh.