OSCE Office Welcomes Use of European Court of Human Rights' Opinions in Case against Azerbaijani Journalist
Azerbaijan, Baku / corr Trend А.Бадалова / The OSCE Office in Baku noted with satisfaction the reference to the European Court of Human Rights in yesterday's decision by the Yasamal District court to dismiss criminal defamation charges against the editor-in-chief of the opposition Azadliq (Freedom) newspaper.
The charges against Ganimat Zahid stemmed from the article "Stone Comes Across Rock" published in the Azadliq newspaper in May. The article was written based on a letter from Imishli Region Railroad Station employee to Azadlig's editorial office which alleged that the station chief was misusing State property
"If the use of the European Court of Human Rights case law becomes generalized in Azerbaijan's courts, we will witness a significant improvement in the situation of freedom of the media in the country," said Ambassador Jose-Luis Herrero, Head of the OSCE Office.
"We fully encourage this trend. The European Court rulings provide the appropriate balance between protecting individual reputations and upholding freedom of expression."
The court ruling emphasizes that Azerbaijan is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights and therefore recognizes the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights. This means that the interpretation of the European Convention should be applied while considering domestic court cases. Referring to Strasbourg case law, the court concluded that "freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society" and "that information or ideas that even offend, shock or disturb should be protected."
"It is only logical that national courts apply case law of a higher jurisdiction, as it is the European Court of Human Rights, which might be called to decide on the cases at a later stage," said Ambassador Jose-Luis Herrero.