Media representatives demand changes to the law on the Media Registry

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Azerbaijan’s independent journalists and media specialists have signed a position paper on the problems arising as a result of the implementation of Azerbaijan’s Law “On Media”. Below is the full English version of the text:

“POSITION STATEMENT of the journalists and media specialists related to the problems arising as a result of the implementation of the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan “On Media”

The implementation of the Law on Media, which was hastily discussed and adopted in December 2021 by the parliament and entered into force with the approval of the head of state in February 2022, especially its provisions related to the establishment of the Media Registry, is creating serious problems related to freedom of expression and media.

The new legislation intends to establish a single register of media and journalists. The rules for keeping the register were approved by the Decree of the head of the country dated September 26, 2022. We, the signatories of this appeal, can see that the Law “On Media”, especially its provisions on the creation of a single register, opens wide opportunities to limit the freedom of media and expression. The implementation of the new law will inevitably have very serious negative effects on the freedom of the media and journalists, and their freedom of movement and activity. Unfortunately, there is no reason to take a different approach to the law and its provisions that have created and will create serious problems regarding media freedom, because in general, the law is against the Constitution of Azerbaijan and the European Convention on Human Rights, which is one of the main international treaties that our country is a party to. This was indicated and commented on in the opinion of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.

After the establishment of the Media Register, the Media Development Agency, a regulatory body, refused to include more than 10 media outlets that have been operating for a long time in the register citing technical reasons, and dozens of media outlets and journalists were warned. Both this and the stage after the formation of the Register create the danger of termination of activity of 100s of media for not being in the Register. Currently, unregistered media and journalists are not even allowed to attend open sessions of the parliament, obstacles are created for journalists to carry out their professional activities in the regions of Azerbaijan.

Such an unpleasant situation will not only cause hundreds of media workers to face individual problems but also will cause irreparable damage to the future of our country regarding media and freedom of expression. In principle, we are not against the register, but we consider it right to form a resource that is not based on the principle of obligation for the media and journalists, but only plays the role of a statistical database, on the principle of volunteerism, and does not harm the freedom of expression and media. Professionals engaged in media and journalism activities already have official tax and other official technical registrations for their fields of activity. It would be more appropriate to summarize and collect this data stored in official institutions in one resource. In all other forms, the Register to be created will essentially play the role of a license and permission provider, which is first of all against the Constitution of Azerbaijan.

Taking into account the above, we emphasize that there is no media legislation of such content in any progressive country of the world, and we demand the removal of the provisions of the Law “On Media” regarding the establishment of the registry, especially Article 65.4.4

Signed by:

1. Alasgar Mammadli,
2. Khadija Ismail,
3. Shahvalad Chobanoglu,
4. Alya Yagublu,
5. Aynur Elgunesh,
6. Khalid Agaliyev,
7. Kamran Mahmudov,
8. Ulvi Hasanli,
9. Mehman Aliyev,
10. Rovshan Hajibeyli,
11. Shamshad Agha,
12. Sevinj Vagifgizi,
13. Shahnaz Beylergizi,
14. Huseyn Ismayilbeyli,
15. Natig Javadli,
16. Gular Mehdizadeh,
17. Aynura Heydarova,
18. Tatyana Kryuchkina,
19. Hafiz Babaly,
20. Esmira Javadova,
21. Nargiz Absalamova,
22. Farid Ismayilov,
23. Aytaj Ahmadova,
24. Sahin Jafarli,
25. Ganimat Zahid,
26. Shamistan Hazi,
27. Elnara Gasimova,
28. Samira Gasimli,
29. Mustafa Hajibayli,
30. Samira Ahmadbayli,
31. Islam Shikhali,
32. Ramin Deko,
33. Mushfiq Jabbar,
34. Seymur Kazimov,
35. Sahila Aslanova,
36. Anar Abdulla,
37. Ulviyya Ali.”


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