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Attacks on the Press in 1998 - Azerbaijan

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1999
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1998 - Azerbaijan, February 1999, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47c5655e26.html [accessed 26 November 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.

As of December 31, 1998

The end of official censorship was virtually the only positive development for the press this year. Unfortunately, this ostensible reform by the government of President Heydar Aliyev was overshadowed by the press freedom abuses that preceded and followed it.

After opposition parties threatened to withdraw from the October 11 presidential election if Aliyev failed to meet a variety of demands, including abolishing censorship, the president issued a decree on August 6 doing away with the General Directorate of State Secrets, known as GLAVLIT, its Soviet-era acronym. GLAVLIT had conducted business in violation of the 1992 Law on Mass Media as well as Articles 47 (freedom of opinions and convictions) and 50 (inadmissibility of censorship of the media) of the Azeri Constitution.

Following GLAVLIT's abolition, government officials said that a new body would be created to monitor reporting on topics deemed to be state secrets, although the details of its structure and its effect on the media had not been spelled out at year's end.

From August through the October 11 presidential election, which Aliyev won easily amidst claims of electoral abuses, journalists experienced some freedom to cover political events. Few, however, believed that this slight opening was permanent – and it has not been. Although censorship is officially dead, authorities have found other ways to silence independent and opposition media.

Criminal and civil libel charges have become weapons of choice, leading to the proliferation of lawsuits against newspapers and journalists for "defaming the honor" of government officials. Although this is not a new form of harassment, there has been a noticeable rise in the number of libel suits filed since November 11, when the Milli Mejlis (Azerbaijan's parliament) issued a statement calling on the minister of information to take measures to prevent the media from publishing materials which insult the honor of President Aliyev. The opposition newspapers Azadliq, Yeni Musavat, Mukhalifat, and Khurriyet, among others, have been the defendants in civil law suits with fines collectively totaling millions of dollars, clearly intended to put them out of business. Editors of these and other newspapers also face criminal charges, most often under Article 121 of the penal code, which carries a sentence of up to three years for publishing false and dishonoring comments about public officials.

In addition to legal harassment, threats and violent assaults against editors and reporters continue to be common, as evidenced by the September 16 beating by police of 34 journalists who were covering an opposition rally in Baku.

The two state-owned television stations, AzTV-1 and AzTV-2, dominate the electronic media, and provide the population with most of its news. Several independent stations exist, although a tightening of private broadcasting regulations has forced them to narrow their coverage to a range of subjects acceptable to local authorities.

Attacks on the Press in Azerbaijan in 1998

DateJournalistIncident
12/15/98Azer Guseinbala, KhurriyetLegal Action
12/15/98Rauf Arifoglu, Yeni MusavatLegal Action
12/15/98Gunduz Tairli, AzadliqLegal Action
12/15/98Suleyman Osmanoglu, MukhalifatLegal Action
12/15/98Yeni MusavatLegal Action
12/14/98AzadliqLegal Action
12/14/98Gunduz Tairli, AzadliqLegal Action
12/05/98Mahir Samedov, UlusLegal Action
11/19/98Yeni MusavatLegal Action
11/19/98UlusLegal Action
11/13/98Esmira Namiqqizi, Yeni MusavatAttacked
11/13/98Ilhama Namiqqizi, Yeni Musavatsugar poured in gas tank
11/13/98Zamina Aliqizi, Yeni MusavatAttacked
11/13/98Aynur Eyvazli, Yeni MusavatAttacked
11/09/98AzadliqLegal Action
11/09/98Yeni MusavatLegal Action
11/09/98Sabina Avazqizi, Yeni MusavatLegal Action
11/09/98Beyuqaga Agayev, AzadliqLegal Action
09/12/98Azer Sariyev, ExpressAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Tahir Mamedov, ChagAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Rey Kerimoglu, SharqAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Azer Rashidoglu, AynaAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Faiq Qazanfaroglu, MilletAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Elman Maliyev, KhurriyetAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Mohammed Ersoy, Yurd YeriAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Ibrahim Niyazli, Democratic AzerbaijanAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Anar Mammadli, Azerbaijan GencleriAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Movsun Mammadov, Monitor magazineAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Rasul Mursaqulov, ChagAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Khalig Bahadur, AzadliqAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Ajdar, AzadliqAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Haji Zamin, AzadliqAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Sarvan Rizvanov, AzadliqAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Elmir Suleymanov, ANS TVAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Ilqar Shakhmaroglu, QanunAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Nebi Rustamov, QanunAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Taghi Yusifov, QanunAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Shakhbaz Khuduoglu, QanunAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Lachin Semra, MukhalifatAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Tahir Pasha, OlaylarAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Natiq Javadli, OlaylarAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Taptyg Farkhadoglu,Turan news agencyAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Movlud Javadov, Yeni MusavatAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Kamil Taghisoy, Yeni MusavatAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Shakhin Jafarli, Yeni MusavatAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Sebukhi Mammadli, Yeni MusavatAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Azer Qarachanli, Yeni MusavatAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Zamina Aliqizi, Yeni MusavatAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Eldaniz Badalov, Bu GunAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Allakhverdi Donmez, TezadlarAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Mekhseti Sherif, RezonansAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Tunzale Rafiqqizi, Ana VetenAttacked, Harassed
09/12/98Shahbaz Xuduoglu, Qanun magazineHarassed
09/12/98Tahir Mamedov, ChagHarassed
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