UN Human Rights Expert Hopes for Improvement of Situation in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan, Baku / corr Trend A.Gasimova / An independent United Nations human rights expert has voiced concerns about freedom of press in Azerbaijan whilst reporting that recent meetings there offered hope that court decisions which have caused a prevailing sense of fear among journalists will be reviewed.
"While Government and State institutions have expressed a willingness to conduct a more open dialogue with media representatives and international organizations, the media environment is marked by various deficiencies," said Ambeyi Ligabo, the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of opinion and expression, in a statement released in Geneva.
During his visit to Azerbaijan in late April, Mr Ligabo met with President Ilham Aliyev, senior state and government officials, as well as representatives from the media, trade unions and members of civil society. He also held an exchange of views with members of the diplomatic corps and senior officials of international organizations.
He noted that journalists and other media professionals have sometimes been victims of repression, including violence and persecution by some law enforcement officials, and spotlighted the need for measures to create favourable economic conditions "in which the rights to freedom of expression and information can be fully enjoyed."
At the same time, Mr Ligabo said he was encouraged by his official meetings and voiced hope that measures will be taken to review national policies and several courts decisions "which have created a widespread sense of fear and censorship among journalists thus diminishing their editorial freedom."
The expert, who acts in an independent personal capacity, will report his findings to the UN Human Rights Council.