Baku Court suspends ‘’ website, and sparks debate on Media Law

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In a controversial ruling that has sparked legal debate and concerns over freedom of expression, the Baku Appellate Court has ordered the suspension of the “” website following a request from the Media Development Agency. The decision, deemed illegal by legal experts, has prompted the website’s editor-in-chief to vow to challenge the ruling.

The judicial panel, chaired by Aytan Orujzade and comprising Khayala Jamilova and Rashid Samadov, reached this decision after a single court hearing, where the head of “,” Mahammad Zamanov (Arsoy), was notably absent. Zamanov had previously informed the court of his inability to attend the scheduled hearing on November 14 and requested a postponement, a plea that went unheeded.

Expressing strong dissent, Zamanov labeled the court’s decision as unfounded and illegal, pledging to file a cassation appeal to the Supreme Court in response.

Central to the Media Development Agency’s claim for the site’s suspension was the alleged failure of the site owner to register within the Media Registry within the stipulated six-month period, as outlined in the Law “On Media.”

However, legal experts like Khalid Agaliyev have vehemently contested the legitimacy of the decision, highlighting the hasty nature in which the court entertained and granted the suspension request. Agaliyev criticized the court’s swift actions in curbing media activities through expedited, brief hearings, emphasizing that such practices blatantly infringe upon the rights of freedom of expression and media.

“The termination of a media organization’s activities should not occur with such ease. The ease with which a court order was issued constitutes a clear violation of fundamental rights. These reactionary practices inevitably inflict pain upon the state and society,” asserted Agaliyev.

Moreover, Agaliyev shed light on a backlog of cases involving media entities that faced rejection when attempting to register within the Media Registry. He highlighted instances where several media outlets, including az24saat online media and the newspaper “Mingachevir Shkalarari,” have been entangled in legal battles with the Media Development Agency for over a year without receiving a final decision on their complaints.

Farman Nabiyev, the head of “Mingachevir Shekhlarari” newspaper, echoed Agaliyev’s sentiments, confirming the prolonged legal tussle with the Media Agency over their newspaper’s exclusion from the Media Register.

The unresolved nature of these cases has fueled concerns regarding the fairness and efficiency of legal procedures pertaining to media registration and operations, raising questions about the protection of press freedom and the right to expression in Azerbaijan.

The case underscores broader issues relating to media regulation and the safeguarding of journalistic freedoms within the country’s legal framework.

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