Press Council: Journalist accountability and professionalism must improve in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan, Baku, June 1 / Trend T.Hajiyev /
Azerbaijan should develop a bill on defamation, State Press Council Chairman Aflatun Amashov said in a speech on "Defamation: Honor, Dignity and Business Reputation in Media" under the project "Discussion of Media Issues as an Endorsement of Journalist Professionalism and Responsibility," realized with the financial support of the Azerbaijani Presidential State Media Support Fund.
The draft law on defamation was prepared in 2005 with the support of the OSCE Baku Office. The working group that prepared the draft includes MPs Ganira Pashayeva and Azay Guliyev, media representatives, and lawyers.
According to international organizations, Articles 147 and 148, which envisage criminal responsibility for libel and insult, should be excluded from the Criminal Code.
In connection with the adoption of the draft law on defamation May 6, 2009, six media organizations - the Association of Azerbaijani Journalists, the Najaf Najafov Foundation, the Center for Journalism and Development, the Yeni Nesil Association of Journalists, and the Azerbaijani Media Center and Democratic Journalists League - have appealed to parliament. Later about 400 media representatives joined the appeal. The draft law was studied in the OSCE.
"The council together with the OSCE Baku Office began to work on an initiative to introduce a law on defamation in early 2010. The theme provoked a heated debate in media and among the general public. Some spoke out about the need to adopt a law. Others regard it as unnecessary," Amashov said.
Press Council Deputy Chairman and Journalists Union Chairman Mushfig Alasgarli said the topic is relevant today.
"Azerbaijan has problems with defamation. Approximately 30 percent of all claims received by the Press Council include issues related to defamation," Alasgarli said.