Pressure on independent journalists intensified in Azerbaijan during pre-election period

According to the media reports, a number of journalists have been arrested in Azerbaijan in the last few months. All of them represent independent media and at different times objectively and critically assessed the actions of the Azerbaijani authorities in terms of protection of human rights and respect for democratic principles in general.

The Azerbaijani authorities’ intolerance of dissent raises suspicions that pre-election arrests of journalists on charges of petty hooliganism, disobedience to police and smuggling are politically motivated. It is true that the sanctions used against journalists are not particularly severe, but even a few days of administrative detention may have a chilling effect, which is probably what the Azerbaijani authorities are trying to achieve. It is also an important circumstance that the Government uses state aid programmes for political pressure and imposes unjustified restrictions on the family members of journalists in terms of receiving social assistance.

In recent years, the situation has sharply deteriorated for the activities of civil organizations in Azerbaijan. A number of civil activists remain in prison. The work of independent journalists is also complicated by political pressure, physical insecurity and persecution. Various international human rights and media organizations have repeatedly criticized the repressive measures used by the Azerbaijani authorities against journalists. According to the Press Freedom Index, Azerbaijan ranks 151st out of 180 countries. Giving media representatives the opportunity to work in a safe environment, free from political or other pressures, is an essential component of democratic development.

The signatory organizations call on international community to critically assess the serious cases of human rights violations in Azerbaijan and to use all political mechanisms at their disposal to ensure respect for human rights by the Azerbaijani authorities.

Signatory organizations:

Democracy Research Institute (DRI)
Civic Idea
International Partnership for Human Rights Tbilisi Office
Social Justice Center
Human Rights Center