The FINANCIAL -- The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media,
Dunja Mijatović, discussed media freedom issues with high-ranking
officials and media as part of her official visit to Azerbaijan, during
which she also visited journalists in detention.
“The mutual trust established between my Office and the Azerbaijani authorities allows us to exchange views in an open and direct manner,” Mijatović said. “During all my meetings I expressed my hope that all imprisoned journalists and bloggers in Azerbaijan would be freed soon, and shared my concerns about all the cases I had previously raised with the authorities, including the attack against independent journalist Idrak Abbasov, the intimidation campaign against Khadija Ismayilova and the fate of the opposition newspaper Äzadliq.”
“I also emphasized the urgent need for the authorities to ensure a safe and free environment for media in Azerbaijan, as professional journalism can only thrive if journalists can perform their duties without fear,” she said. “In the short term this would mean the murderers of Elmar Huseynov and Rafiq Taghi are finally brought to justice, and every attack against journalists or attempt to harass or intimidate media is strongly condemned by the authorities and investigated swiftly.”
“In the long term, changes are needed in the legislative framework”, Mijatović said. “It was encouraging to hear that some steps are being undertaken, especially that Azerbaijan would soon decriminalize defamation. This would be a very substantive step towards more media freedom and less fear.” Mijatović said that she offered her Office’s full support and assistance to this important endeavour.
The Representative also discussed the distribution system, print media advertising and online media freedom, calling upon the authorities to ensure that Internet remains free in Azerbaijan and commending the country for hosting the Seventh UN Internet Governance Forum.
As the OSCE reported, during her visit Mijatović met Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov, Interior Minister Ramil Usubov, the Head of the Presidential Administration’s Public-Political Affairs Department Ali Hasanov and the Head of the International Relations Department Novruz Mammadov.
The Representative was also granted full and unlimited access to visit detained journalists Avaz Zeynalli, the chief editor of Khural newspaper, independent journalist Faramaz Novruzoglu (Allahverdiyev), executive director of Khayal TV Vugar Gonagov and chief editor of Tolishi Sado newspaper, Hilal Mammadov.