Azerbaijan is ranked 189 out of 199 countries in Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press 2016 index. The country was ranked as “not free” with a score of 89 on a 0-100 scale, with 0 indicating total freedom of the press, and 100 indicating none.
“Azerbaijan declined due to the brutal and so far unsolved murder of a prominent journalist, as well as increased restrictions on foreign journalists surrounding the European Games in June,” the annual report
, referring to Elmar Huseynov, who was killed in March 2005.
The report also indicated that journalists covering high-level corruption in Azerbaijan face “harsh legal repercussions.”
“Authorities in Azerbaijan not only tightened legislative restrictions on media in 2015, but also targeted individual journalists for legal and extralegal persecution. The staff of the online station Meydan TV faced administrative and physical harassment by officials throughout the year, as did members of their families,” according to the report.
The think tank further added: “Spurious criminal cases against several reporters culminated in alarmingly lengthy prison terms, while other journalists were victims of violent attacks. Rasim Aliyev, an independent reporter and human rights activist, died in August after being brutally beaten by unidentified assailants. The authorities released several journalists and bloggers along with other political prisoners in March 2016, but prominent journalist Khadija Ismayilova remains behind bars, and the government’s hostile policies toward critical media show no signs of genuine change.”
The survey further noted that press freedom declined to its lowest point in 12 years globally, and only 13% of the world’s population enjoys a free press.