Prosecutor General Proposed Extending the Reach of Criminal Laws on Defamation

November 16th, 2016

mm

On 15 November 2016, Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan Zakir Garalov has submitted a draft proposal to Milli Majlis on adding Article 148-1 (posting slander or insult on the internet information resource by using fake user names, profiles or accounts) to the Criminal Code.

According to the new article, slanderous or insulting public content online posted by using fake user names, profiles or accounts shall be punishable by a fine of 1000 to 1500 AZN, community service for 360 to 480 hours, corrective labour for up to two years, or imprisonment for up toone year.

According to the new Article, “fake user names, profiles or accounts” referred to in this Article mean usernames, profiles or accounts which do not allow for the identification of the user online including social networks. More precisely the article encompassesusernames, profiles or accounts displaying false information on name, surname or patronymic or hiding such information, as well as usernames, profiles or accounts created by using information about another person without their consent.

Accordingly, amendments are proposed to the Criminal Procedure Code.

The prosecutor general has noted that the proposed amendments aim to prevent slander or insult publicly posted on the internet by fake usernames, profiles or accounts and to ensure a more effective fight against such human rights violations.

“In practice, especially at a time when internet technologies are so highly developed, we come across cases where some people create fake usernames, profiles or accounts to insult others. Apparently, the fact that this area is not regulated combined with certain loopholes in the legislation contribute to the commission of such offences. Therefore, this proposal should be adopted to ensure a more effective prevention of such violations, strengthening of the fight against them, elimination of the violations, theircauses and circumstances that give rise to them, and elimination of the certain loopholes in the legislation,” Garalov noted.

 Zakir Garalov’s proposal was discussed at the meeting of the Parliament’s Committee on Legal Policy and State Building on 16 November. The bill was recommended for the plenary session of the Parliament.

Recall that the current Articles 147 (insult) and 148 (slander) of the Criminal Code are also applicable to the internet.