South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders

Saytda axtarış
On 3rd of May, the International Press Freedom Day, in the press centre of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS), a roundtable was held on the theme “Is there need for State Regulation on the Internet in the 21st Century?”

IRFS Chairman said that the aim of the event was to discuss the dangers to Internet freedom, and a statement should be prepared at the end of the event on behalf of the participants to be sent to the government.
MRI Director Rashid Hajili stressed that no practice to supervise the internet exists in the world, and evaluated the issue raised around it as an old fashioned approach in an era when new technologies are developing.

IREX Azerbaijan Lawyer Alasgar Mammadli said that internet has been regulated through the Law “On Mass Media” and noted that all problems should be solved within this law. According to Mammadli, the notion of “television” has nothing to do with the Internet from the legal point of view.

Republican Alternative Citizen Union Co-founder Ilgar Mammadov said that the regulation of the Internet is not only a freedom issue, but a step that will affect national governmental ideas negatively. If any social network was to be restricted, Armenians will take the upper hand the propaganda regarding Karabakh issue, and youth will lose the ability to write and express opinion in these networks, according to Mammadov.
Turan Information Agency Director Mehman Aliyev stated that the Internet’s turn has come after the print media and TV channels were monopolized. Aliyev stressed that traditional media has been ineffective during several years and this gave a contrary outcome. According to Aliyev, the government has already realized that citizens have been distanced from media that is under control, as the government has been taking restrictive measures.

The participants noted that the Internet regulation is not a welcome purpose, and that the administration is concerned about the increased number of people joining social networks.
      *A statement was issued on behalf of roundtable participants 
Statement issued regarding the World Press Freedom Day by the participants of the roundtable held on the theme “Is there need for state regulation on the internet in the 21st century?”
Today the situation of freedom of speech in Azerbaijan creates big concern; Editor-in-chief of Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan Newspapers Eynulla Fatullayev, bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade remain imprisoned over trumped-up charges. The executors and people behind Elmar Huseynov’s murder have not been found to this day.  Huseynov was slain on 2 March, 2005.

FM broadcasts of Radio Liberty, BBC and VOA were shut down, electronic media outlets operate under control of the government, necessary conditions to open new TV and radios in Azerbaijan do not exist, and the right of people who have these initiatives are not secured.

The Monitoring results have shown that TV channels do not secure political pluralism, objectivity, or freedom of opinion; and do not follow principles envisaged in local and international laws.
Many of Azerbaijani citizens who face these issues have lost their trust in the traditional TV and Radio broadcasters, and turn to more credible and objective information sources. These sources are internet and mass media outlets broadcast via internet.
Instead of solving these problems, administration representatives and forces close to the government declared recently that Internet TV and Radios, and virtual social networks should all be regulated.
We believe that the regulation of the Internet is a plot not only against freedom, but also against potential innovative development of the state.
We call on Azerbaijan’s government to:

•immediately free imprisoned journalists – Eynulla Fatullayev, Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade;
•find the executors and conspirators behind Elmar Huseynov’s murder and hold them accountable;
•restore FM broadcasts of foreign radio stations;
•positively solve appeals regarding the opening of new TV and radios;
•secure the independent operation of existing TV channels and radios;
•remove the issue of licensing of Internet and regulating the virtual social networks by the government from the agenda;
•not thwart initiatives to create new Internet TV and Radio.

The statement was signed by:  
Novella Jafaroglu, Chairperson of the Defense Society for Women’s Rights named after Dilara Aliyeva
Saadat Bananyarli, International Human Rights Society National Committee Chairperson
Saida  Gojamanli, Chairperson of the Bureau for Human Rights and Defense of Rule of Law
Ilgar Mammadov, RE:AL Citizen Union Co-founder
Natig Jafarli, RE:AL Citizen Union Co-founder
Rovshan Hajibeyli, the School of Democratic Journalism
Shahvalad Chobanoglu, well-known journalist
Mehman Aliyev, “Turan” Information Agency Director
Sanubar Heydarli, 10 December Youth Organization Co-founder
Nahid Ismayil, 10 December Youth Organization Co-founder
Vafa Jafarova, AN Network Representative
Rashid Hajili, Media Rights Institute Director
Khalid Agailiyev, Media Rights Institute Program Coordinator
Emin Fatullayev, father of the Editor-in-chief of Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan Newspapers Eynulla Fatullayev
Azer Aykhan, Yeni Musavat Newspaper Deputy Editor-in-chief
Alasgar Mammadli, IREX Azerbaijan
Idrak Abbasov, IRFS
Emin Huseynov, IRFS
Rasul Jafarov, Center for Television and Alternative Media Development Chairman




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