TODAY.AZ / Politics

"Freedom House" considers Azerbaijan to be a country without freedom of speech

30 April 2005 [16:08] - TODAY.AZ
"Freedom House" International Organization announced annual report on freedom of press in world countries. According to the report only 75 countries have freedom of press and information.
Stating about 50 countries to have partial freedom of press, "Freedom House" experts announces that 69 countries have not freedom of press so far.17% of the world population live in the countries with freedom of press, 38%  with partial freedom of press, 45% without freedom of press. Some countries changed their positions in comparison with 2003.

The positions of five countries were improved, as there appeared serious problems concerning the freedom of press in two countries it caused negative effect to their statuses. According to the results of last year, Ukraine, Lebanon, Guatemala and Guinea-Bissau were excluded from the category "Countries without freedom of speech" and included into "Countries with partial freedom of speech". Namibia replaced the status "Country with partial freedom of speech" with "Country with freedom of speech". Kenya and Pakistan which were included to the list of countries with partial freedom of speech in 2003 are considered to be countries without freedom of speech.

"Freedom House" international organization included Azerbaijan into the list of countries without freedom of speech.

It is stated in the report in its part about Azerbaijan that Constitution of Azerbaijan affirmed the right of freedom of information. "However, as there are not free court system and financial oppressions in the country, the press depends on the authority and oligarchy. The activity of mass media is regulated in accordance with the law applied in 1999. Parliament administered a law "About Public Television" in 2004, it is about establishing public television on the basis of Azerbaijan Television and Radio company"

It is sated in the report that, new variant of draft law "About freedom of information" has been presented to the parliament, the draft law is considered to be discussed in spring session of Milli Majlis (Azeri Parliament)".

The activity of mass media in the country is regulated independently, though there is Press council and National TV and Radio Council, both of these organizations are under the control of official organizations. The activity of National TV and Radio Council engaged in issuing licenses to TV channels and taking public control of the activity of radio broadcasting is ineffective. This organization depending on the government factually issued no license to any new TV channels.

"Freedom House" organization states about various oppressions and court processes on journalists in Azerbaijan last year. Stating about physical oppressions on the chief editor of the magazine "Monitor" Elmar Huseynov and contributor of the magazine Eynullah Fatullayev, the report draws the attention to the fact of kidnapping chief editor of the newspaper "Baku Khabar" Aydin Guliyev in June last year. The reports consider the imprisonment of chief editor of the newspaper "Yeni Musavat" Rauf Arifoglu as restriction of freedom of speech. "Freedom House" mentioned about  publications of  40 independent and opposition newspapers, activity of more than 20 TV channels and radios in the country. "However, the elite in power keeps the publishing houses under control, newspaper close to government are published in the publication houses. The opposition newspapers are published in the only independent publishing house in the country "Chap Evi" (Printing house), the activity of this publishing house was stopped several times by various reasons. There is obstacle to the sale of opposition newspapers in the country; too, sellers of such newspapers face oppressions."

The organization also considered the facts concerning the obstacles posed on the opposition representatives in their addressing on state television as violation of freedom of speech.

Besides, the demand of internet providers for getting license from Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies is also considered to be restriction of freedom of information. It is stated in the report that, "as the capacity of purchasing of people is in low level, the majority of the citizens cannot buy newspaper, advertisement market is very poor, as the press business is non-profitable, it is considered noncommercial activity, the newspapers depend on the sponsors factually".

"Freedom House" notes that, the talented journalists contributing to the opposition press and independent newspapers are offered high payment and invited to the newspapers controlled by monopolists.


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