OSCE calls Azerbaijan for ceasing arrests of journalists for defamation
Azerbaijan, Baku, October 14 / Trend E. Ostapenko /
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) calls Azerbaijani authority for excluding persecution and arrests of journalists for professional mistakes, including defamation, the organization said.
"I ask the Azerbaijani government to start the reform process to decriminalize defamation completely. It is high time that Azerbaijan stopped launching such discreditable cases once and for all," the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklos Haraszti, said.
There are five arrested journalists in Azerbaijan in the recent years, two of them were imprisoned.
Editor-in-chief Sardar Alibayli and correspondent of Nota newspaper Faramaz Allahverdiyev lost an appeal in Baku on October 8, and must serve sentences of three months' imprisonment for defamation. Another correspondent of Nota, Ramiz Tagiyev, was sentenced to six months suspended imprisonment for the same offence.
Baku court convicted the chief of Fanat.az website, Zahid Azamat, and a staff member, Natig Mukhtarly, for defamation. Zahid Azamat was sentenced to six months and Natig Mukhtarly - to one year of corrective labour.
Haraszti had expressed his concern about the convictions in a letter to Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.
"I call on your Government to review the latest sentences against the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights, which in no case has approved imprisonment of journalists for professional mistakes," the letter said.
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