Azerbaijani gov't must reconsider arrested journalists: Council of Europe

Politics Materials 11 February 2009 15:57 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, Feb. 11 / Trend , J.Babayeva/

The Council of Europe is concerned about several amendments to the Constitution to be considered during the March referendum in Azerbaijan.

"Some amendments may limit the freedom of the press. The proposed regulations to protect the private lives of citizens are too broad and could contradict the European Human Rights Convention," Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis said. 

Azerbaijan will hold a referendum on March 18 to amend the Constitution.

The Central Election Commission (CEC) has registered the New Azerbaijan Party, Huquq Va Demokratiya, Shahar, Vatandash Jamiyyati , For Long-Term Development and Zaka referendum initiative groups.

The Abad Kand and Azad Soz groups failed to pass registration.

The Constitution was adopted in 1995. Amendments and additions were made in 2002.

The Council of Europe is prepared to offer recommendations on how to best balance protecting the rights of citizens to private lives and maintaining the freedom of the press.

"The Council of Europe will only offer recommendations if the member-country appeals to us," Davis said on Feb. 11.

The Council of Europe is concerned with several imprisoned journalists and urges the Azerbaijani government to immediately examine these cases, the secretary general said.

The detained journalists include Azadlig newspaper Chief Editor Ganimat Zahid, Azadlig journalist Mirza Sakit, Gundalik Azerbaijan and Realni Azerbaijan newspapers Chief Editor Eynulla Fatullayev and Bizim Yol newspaper Chief Editor Mushvig Huseynov.

Freedom of the press exists in Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijani Presidential Administration Executive Body head Ramiz Mehdiyev told journalists.

"The arrested journalists committed concrete crimes and have been sentenced as a result," he said.

Mehdiyev said the journalists were not arrested due to their professional activities.

Do you have any feedback? Contact our journalist at: [email protected]