The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders

Azerbaijan’s government is considering making changes and amendments to four laws to restrict the operation of Mass Media.
According to MP Penah Huseyn, the Presidential Administration put forth a proposal to the Milli Mejlis (Parliament) to make additions and changes to laws “On Mass Media,” “On Freedom of Information,” “On operation-investigation activities,” “On intelligence and anti-intelligence activity,” and “On Obtaining information.”

According to him, these additions and changes were discussed in a meeting at the Parliament State Building, of the Law Policy and Human Rights permanent committees. This issue has been included in the agenda of Milli Mejlis meeting to be held on 12 February.

According to the proposed addition to the 60th article of Law “On Mass Media,” “Except operation-investigation cases, following someone, and subjecting them to video, photo or voice recording by media representatives without them knowing it or with them objecting to it is punishable as defined by law.” This addition is also being considered to be added to article 6 of the law “On Obtaining information,” article 21 of the law “On operation-investigation activities,” and to the law “On intelligence and anti-intelligence activity,” said P.Huseyn and noted that these antidemocratic changes are contrary to the Constitution of Azerbaijan and the European Convention. “The government will try to substantiate this addition with the amendment made to the constitution last year,” added P.Huseyn. “But this issue is a subject of the European Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms.”

Media Rights Institute (MRI), Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS), as well as Freedom of Speech Defense Committee (FSDC) disseminated the statement objecting changes and amendments to the above mentioned laws. 

The statements express concern about information regarding the proposal on changes and amendments to the laws and adopting this change will severely damage journalists’ right to obtain and disseminate information.

The authors of the statement said also that the proposed amendments and changes are contrary to article 10 of the Human Rights Convention of Europe and articles 47 and 50 of the Azerbaijani Constitution and call Azerbaijan’s government to prevent from taking this anti-democratic step.

On 18 March 2009, in the referendum, amendment was made to article 32 (right to inviolability) of the Constitution, “Except in cases defined by law, nobody cannot be followed, and cannot be subjected to video or photo recording or this kind of actions without him knowing it or with him objecting to it.”

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