On December 28, a group of Azerbaijani journalists organized a protest in front of the Milli Majlis’ building with slogans that read “No to the reactionary law”, “We do not want journalism with permission”, “Do not make shackles out of the law”.
However, the action moved to the streets of Baku. A joint-statement was read by one participant, journalist Aytaj Tapdig, criticizing the proposal for the new law which opens wide opportunities for the state to determine who can carry out media activities.
Journalists argue that the draft law contradicts the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the European Convention on Human Rights and other international treaties to which Azerbaijan is a member, including the provisions on freedom of expression and the media.
The controversial bill establishes strict requirements for journalistic activities. This includes a wide range of issues, from registering media and journalists to issuing a single journalistic identity and preventing the dissemination of classified information.
The draft law was discussed at the plenary session of the Milli Mejlis on December 14 and passed the first reading. Dozens of Azerbaijani journalists, lawyers, media experts and organizations then called to suspend the discussion of the bill in the Milli Mejlis. Representatives of civil society joined them. Nevertheless, the bill passed on the second reading.
This is the second protest of journalists against the adoption of the draft law “On Media”. Earlier, on December 24, a group of journalists held a protest when bill passed in the second reading before the Milli Mejlis. They stated that the draft was approved secretly, without public discussion, and that many of its provisions are of reactionary content.