UN Special Rapporteur Hopes for Settlement of Media Problems in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan, Baku, 7 March /corr. Trend E.Huseynov / The UN Special Rapporteur considers that media environment is marked with various problems in Azerbaijan and hopes that executive measures will be taken promptly, stated in the report by Ambeyi Ligabo, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, which he prepared for the seventh session of the UN Human Rights Council- which will take place in March in Geneva, the UNDP in Azerbaijan reported.
According to the information gathered by the Special Rapporteur who visited Azerbaijan in April 2007, current laws concerning defamation, libel and insult are not in line with the increasing trend towards decriminalization of the related offences.
In addition, he was encouraged by his meetings with Government and State representatives and hopes that executive measures will be taken promptly to appraise national policies, especially the action of Ministry of Internal Affairs.
"For its part, the Ministry of Justice should review several court decisions, which have created a widespread sense of fear and self-censorship among the journalists, thus diminishing their editorial freedom," the report says. The expert considers that a swift revision of the current legislation on the media to make it fully compatible with international standards would be a first step forward.
Moreover, Rapporteur thinks that the communications market seems to be seriously underdeveloped for various reasons. "At the regional level, presence of large media companies in neighboring countries does not encourage fresh financial investments, which could strengthen media representation and capacities. Without an adequate increase in economic resources, the development of professional capacities of media representatives, especially training on human rights and professional ethics, is unlikely," the report states.
The expert conclusion says that Azerbaijan has always been at the crossroads of different cultures and ethnic groups. "The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the ensuing independence of Azerbaijan have given a new impetus to the country, which is struggling to establish and consolidate democratic structures, develop civil society and ensure steady economic growth," Ligabo says in his report.