Presidential Office Official Accuses Journalists of Intentional Slander

Azerbaijan, Baku / Trend corr. S.Ilhamgizi / More often than not journalists are deliberately slanderous, the head of the Public-Political Department of the Presidential Administration Ali Hasanov stated to Trend agency on 5 December.

"If a journalist malign or insult anybody he does it in order to cause an impact and take revenge on rivals. Such a journalist cannot act independently, he is functioning under pressure or by order of some political force or person," Hasanov said.

The chairman of the monitoring Aqo group of the Council of Europe Per Segren said that he was alarmed by the detention of journalists in Azerbaijan, critically referring to long-term sentences against journalists. Segren noted that he would like to make changes in the Azerbaijani legislation which envisages criminal liability for slander.

Hasanov said that the Government was alarmed due to detention of journalists most of all. However, Hasanov considers that the Azerbaijani Government cannot limit citizen with the right to appeal to courts to protect their rights, dignity and honor. Moreover, the government cannot pass a bill which stipulates criminal liability of journalists for slander. "If the country's legislation stipulates criminal liability for slander or insult of dignity and honor then the bill should be implemented. Unfortunately, in some cases journalists are detained in the country for their professional activities. We want to settle the problem regarding the detention of journalists. We cannot pass a bill on Defamation taking into consideration the irresponsibility by journalists and their low professional skill, Hasanov said. Adopting the bill on Defamation may lead to severe consequences and harsh contradictions.

"Journalists should attentively abide with the ethic of the code of journalists in order to avoid detention. And journalists should follow the demands of the document in order to improve relations between the journalists and the public," Hasanov added.

There are eight detained journalist in Azerbaijan. Seven were arrested and one is being charged.

The court made the decision on the lawsuit brought by the reporter of the Public TV and Radio Broadcasting Company (ITV), Amina Rahimova, against the detained editor-in-chief of the Mukhalifat newspaper, Rovshan Kabirli, and journalist Yashar Agazadeh, as well as Mehrali Iskandaroglu, the founder, and Ilgar Valiyev, the editor-in-chief, of the Kriminal alam newspaper. Eynulla Fatullayev, editor-in-chief of the Gundalik Azerbaijan and Realni Azerbaijan newspapers was sentenced to 8 ? years

in prison through the decision of the Heinous Crimes Court on 30 October.

Mirza Sakit, journalist of Azadlig newspaper was charged by the Heinous Crime Court of Azerbaijan and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Novruzoglu was accused by the Azerbaijani Internal Minister, Ramil Usubov and the chairman of the State Commission on Work with Azerbaijanis Residing Abroad, Nazim Ibrahimov. Novruzoglu was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment

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