Ilham Aliyev has approved the Law on Media

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev – Image: Azertaj

The calls of international organizations were not taken into account.

On 8 February, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev approved the contested Law on Media, which will affect a number of issues, of which you can find an overview below.

Who is a journalist?

The new law stipulates that journalists are those who work at a media with an employment contract, or under a civil law contract based on individual copyright. The approved new law will also apply to media outlets, editorial offices established in Azerbaijan and their products. At the same time, this law applies to media outlets and their journalists outside Azerbaijan, whose activities are aimed at domestic audiences.

To whom will the law not apply?

Information disseminated only by persons who are not considered media subjects (except journalists) will not be regulated by this law. In other words, the law will not apply to correspondence sent by users using information technology, except for cases where they are actively disseminating information.

Interference in the activities of journalists

Article 6 of the law is entitled “Ensuring journalistic activity”. It states that journalists have the right to unite in organizations that represent their interests, and to protect their personal inviolability, honor and dignity in the performance of their professional duties. The professional activity of journalists should not be illegally interfered with. This article states that harassment of and pressure on journalists in connection with the collection, preparation, editing and production, transmission, interpretation of information intended for public use, not limited by Azerbaijani law, is inadmissible.

Foreign media representatives

Article 11 of the document deals with the activities of foreign media representatives in Azerbaijan. It is noted that the legal status and professional activity of foreign journalists and other foreign media representatives accredited in Azerbaijan are regulated by Azerbaijani normative legal acts and international agreements to which the country is a party. Cases can be opened where stipulated by international agreements to which Azerbaijan is a party. At the same time, the accreditation of foreign journalists in Azerbaijan will be carried out by a body (agency) designated by the relevant executive authority.

Journalists included in the media registry

The law emphasizes the restrictions imposed by other states on the professional activities of journalists included in the media register. If a state imposes restrictions on a journalist, Azerbaijan will take the same action against that person. Article 21 lists the circumstances under which confidential audio and visual information may be disseminated. This may be done only with the written consent of the person against whom the material is prepared. Or it can be used to protect another person’s rights and freedoms as defined by the Constitution. In general, the law prohibits the use and dissemination of secret audio-video recordings, films and photographs.

What types of media are there?

Article 25 of the law states that there are audiovisual, print and online media. News agencies are also considered media subjects. If the founder of a media outlet is an individual, he must live in Azerbaijan permanently and have Azerbaijani citizenship. If he is a legal entity, he must have a superior share in the authorized capital (75 percent). It must also belong to a citizen (citizens) of the Republic of Azerbaijan permanently residing in Azerbaijan and (or) a legal entity (legal entities) registered in the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Who can’t establish media?

Persons previously convicted of serious or particularly serious crimes against public morality may not be considered media. This includes persons whose convictions have not been served or revoked, as well as persons who have been declared incompetent or partially incapable by a court. Political parties and religious organizations may only be founders (participants) of print media. Media may not be funded by individuals or legal entities of foreign countries that are not its founders (participants), their branches or representative offices. It is also not allowed for foreign government agencies to finance media.

Requirements for the manager:

  • The head of the media governing body must have a higher education.
  • Article 60 of the law deals with online media. It states that the subjects of online media can be individuals or legal entities.

Requirements for online media:

  • These media outlets must indicate on the website their name, TIN, domain name owner, surname, name and patronymic of the responsible editor, address and contact details of the online media entity. These should be displayed under the heading “contact” of the media and in a way that users can access directly from the home page.

Journalist’s activity

As for the activities of journalists, the law states that journalists included in the media register are issued a journalist’s card by a body (institution) designated by the relevant executive authority. The form of the journalist’s card, the amount of payment for its issuance or replacement and the procedure for using these funds shall be determined by the body (institution) determined by the relevant executive authority. This does not apply to foreign journalists working in Azerbaijan. Foreign journalists must apply in advance to a body (organization) designated by the relevant executive authority to work in the country. They can work after receiving consent.

Accreditation of journalists

The section on accreditation of journalists states that media entities can accredit journalists included in the Media Registry with the consent of state bodies (institutions), enterprises and organizations, non-governmental organizations and in accordance with the accreditation rules established by them. Journalists who show and are included in the Media Registry may be accredited by state bodies (institutions), enterprises and organizations, non-governmental organizations with the consent of these bodies and in accordance with the accreditation rules established by them.

Registry of media organization

As for the registry of a media organization, it is stated that it was created to systematize information about the media, editorial office and journalists.

Journalists applying for inclusion in the Media Register must meet the following requirements:

  • must have higher education;
  • must be able to work;
  • have not been previously convicted of serious or particularly serious crimes, as well as crimes against public morality;
  • if convicted, the conviction must have been paid or revoked;
  • have an employment contract with a media entity (individual copyright journalists must have a civil contract with at least one media entity);
  • the media subject one works for must be included in the Media Registry;
  • the media entity in which one works at must operate continuously (except for media entities that did not operate before the date of application);
  • must have at least three years of work experience in the field of journalism or work in scientific and pedagogical educational institutions in the field of journalism for at least three years;
  • must follow the rules of professional ethics (ethical conduct) during one’s activity as a journalist;
  • a journalist working as a sole proprietor under a civil law contract must be registered as a sole proprietor.

If the applicants do not meet the requirements of Article 74.1 of this Law and the journalists do not meet the requirements of Article 74.2 of this Law, The body (institution) determined by the body shall refuse to include them in the Media Registry. On the basis of the information provided in accordance with Articles 54.7 and 55.8 of the Law, audiovisual media subjects shall be included directly in the Media Register.

Is the media free?

The law also states that media is free in the Republic of Azerbaijan. State censorship in the field of media, as well as the creation and financing of state bodies (institutions) or positions for this purpose is prohibited. “Freedom of the media is based on the state guaranteeing the right of everyone to legally seek, receive, prepare, transmit, produce and disseminate information.”

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