Words of OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media were added (first version was posted at 12:38).
Azerbaijan, Baku, May 13 / Trend T.Konyayeva /
OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic believes that Azerbaijan has witnessed positive changes in the media over the past year and a half.
"Changes for the better have been seen in the Azerbaijani media in the past one and a half years. However, the real work will begin only after the country adopts the defamation law", Mijatovic said at a press conference after a four-day visit to Azerbaijan.
"I welcome President Ilham Aliyev's views on freedom of access to the Internet. Such a position is not witnessed in all OSCE countries," Mijatovic said.
During the visit, Mijatovic held meetings with the authorities and representatives of the Azerbaijani media.
"A certain project should be carried out in Azerbaijan. Provocative themes must be touched in the press and pluralism must be ensured. I think that the Azerbaijani government has agreed with this view and expressed the desire to pay maximum attention to these issues," Mijatovic said.
Azerbaijan, she said, like many other countries, entered the era of information technology in which the information that is spread can often times be provocative.
Mijatovic said Azerbaijan has quickly adapted to the digital environment. The attitudes of ordinary citizens to journalists should also change, she said.
"Impunity of actions against journalists generates an even greater wave of violence," she said.
After the departure, Mijatovic intends to continue to monitor the processes occurring in this sphere in Azerbaijan.
The main purpose of defamation law is to avoid the imprisonment of journalists, as well as make the fines that are imposed on the media more proportionate," said Mijatovic.
"I expect that the Parliament of Azerbaijan will conduct intensive discussions over the bill and wait for support of this bill from the society," she said.
The draft law on defamation was developed with the support of the OSCE Office in Baku in 2005. The group of developers of the bill included MPs, representatives of media institutions and lawyers.
International organizations believe that articles 147 (slander) and 148 (insult) which envisage criminal responsibility for insult and slander must be removed from the Criminal Code.
Mijatovic believes journalists should be dispassionate, independent and ensure transparency, "but I also understand that transparency can not be achieved very quickly, but you must at least discuss it," she said.
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