Last Updated: Wednesday, 01 October 2014, 14:56 GMT

Azerbaijan: Report warns of threat to freedom of expression online ahead of international internet summit.

Publisher Article 19
Publication Date 6 November 2012
Cite as Article 19, Azerbaijan: Report warns of threat to freedom of expression online ahead of international internet summit., 6 November 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/509a2d812.html [accessed 1 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

ARTICLE 19 urges the government of Azerbaijan to put into action a series of recommendations to protect freedom of expression online following the publication of 'Searching for Freedom: Online Expression in Azerbaijan'. Its publication has been timed to coincide with the 7th Annual Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Baku, which begins today.

The report, published by the Azerbaijani-based Expression Online Initiative, states that the biggest threat to internet freedom in the country is political rather than technological, and highlights moves by the authorities to censor and suppress those seeking to express critical views political views on the internet.

Five people are currently behind bars for exercising their right to free speech online. Another faces jail. These journalists, bloggers and activists appear to have been targeted by the authorities because they have expressed critical political views online.

"This report confirms what we have been seeing for some time in our work in Azerbaijan. People who are using the internet to express legitimate political views and voice criticism are threatened, harassed and imprisoned by the authorities. This constitutes an outright attack on the fundamental right to freedom of expression and must stop" said Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19's Executive Director.

"Freedom of expression is already violated in Azerbaijan through the repression of traditional independent media. It is vital that the internet is able to provide a space for diverse views which challenge dominant and repressive ideologies" she added.

ARTICLE 19 joins with the authors of the report in calling for the immediate release of those detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression online.

 "Anyone who uses the internet in Azerbaijan – and that's pretty much all of us – should be concerned by the authorities' actions to limit freedom of expression online" said Emin Huseynov, Institute for Reporters Freedom and Safety's Chair, and one of the members of the Expression Online Initiative.

"We call on the authorities to take immediate steps to improve this situation. They should start by releasing the five detained and imprisoned cyber dissents" he added.

The report has been published by Expression Online Initiative, a consortium of local freedom of expression organizations including the Human Rights Club, the Azerbaijan Media Center and the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety. It was developed in partnership with ARTICLE 19 and International Media Support.

The report is available in full at http://expressiononline.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Report_EO_1.pdf

ENDS

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