OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media visiting Baku. Teresa Ribeiro held a meeting on Tuesday with representatives of the media community and lawyers involved in the legal protection of journalists.
The participants of the meeting focused on the problems of free media in the country. It was pointed out that the situation with freedom of the media began to steadily worsen after the assassination in 2005 of the editor of the Monitor magazine, Elmar Huseynov, after which the vicious practice of arresting journalists and physical pressure on them began. In recent years, the opportunities for the activities of the media and non-governmental journalistic organizations have been permanently limited at the legislative level.
The law on media, adopted at the end of last year, may lead to the destruction of the remnants of free media in Azerbaijan, since it introduces strict regulation of the activities of the media and journalists.
Lawyers drew attention to the preservation and expansion of measures of criminal liability for defamation in the Azerbaijani legislation. Ribeiro, after listening to the participants of the meeting, noted that the issues raised by them are on the agenda of the OSCE negotiations with the government of Azerbaijan. He spoke out against the decriminalization of defamation.
According to her, the OSCE institutions, including the office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, monitors the implementation by the participating countries of their obligations to the organization.
Ribeiro also indicated that the OSCE is aware of the new media law in Azerbaijan. At present, its expertise is being carried out by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe and the OSCE, for its part, is ready to give a legal assessment of the document.