Azerbaijan, Baku / corr. Trend A.Gasimova / More than twenty journalists from different Azerbaijani media outlets took part in a seminar on court and crime reporting, organized by the OSCE Office in Baku on 4 May. Participants also discussed the notion of presumption of innocence as a human right and as one of the main principles that journalists should keep in mind when reporting on court hearings and crime cases.
They reviewed historical sources of the presumption of innocence, its application in other countries, and practical advice on how to avoid violating this right. "The media asserts great influence and journalists need to always act responsibly, recognizing that objective reporting and presumption of innocence are key elements for ensuring fair trials in a democratic society," said Andreas Busch, the Head of the Rule of Law Unit of the OSCE Office.
In 2006, the OSCE Office commissioned a report on Azerbaijan's adherence to the principle of presumption of innocence, which suggested that the country's journalists, police officers, prosecutors and judges often treat suspicion of guilt and proof of criminal behaviour in the same way. The OSCE Office in Baku continues to support the country's media and legal communities and encourages them to hold open discussions on the topic. It also supports the development of a strong judiciary in Azerbaijan.