Açıq mənbələrdən şəkil

Açıq mənbələrdən şəkil

On April 25, President Ilham Aliyev signed the Law "On Amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences of the Republic of Azerbaijan". Pro-government media present this news in the following form: new fines have been established for violating media legislation. According to the amendments made to the Code, individuals will be fined from two hundred to three hundred manats for obstructing the distribution of media products in accordance with the procedure established by law, officials - from three hundred to five hundred manats.

It is this change that is being purposefully covered in the pro-government media. Many media and media experts present these changes as a continuation of media reforms.

In fact, the essence of the question is different. Because the amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences do not consist of one article. And this advertised article has already been in this Code and legislation. Just now it is presented in a new edition.

The head of the Media Rights Group Khalid Agaliyev tells ASTNA about the basis and nature of the changes in the Code concerning media.

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Question: President Ilham Aliyev signed the law "On Amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences of the Republic of Azerbaijan". The media most often raises the issue of imposing fines on those who illegally interfere in the activities of journalists. Which article has this change been made to? What does it provide for? Is this an innovation?

Answer: These changes are related to the new law "On Media", explained by bringing the Administrative Code in line with the new law. The main changes that attract attention cover Article 381 of the Code. Previously, this article was called "Preventing the spread of media" and consisted of 2 sentences. In the new edition, it is called "Violation of media legislation", consists of 14 points and provides for a fine for 14 different acts. Article 381 provides for administrative sanctions against actions that prevent journalists from carrying out their professional activities in 2 cases.

In the first case, a fine of 300 to 600 manats is provided for illegal interference in the professional activities of journalists. And in the second, administrative sanctions have been established for restricting the right of journalists to receive information. None of these changes is an innovation. In connection with the first - for illegal interference in the professional activities of journalists, criminal legislation already provides for a more severe punishment, criminal punishment. These articles of the Criminal Code are still in force.

To summarize, the changes, the content of which is to ensure journalistic activity, are of a technical nature, i.e. they do not create any new situation, but represent a repetition of previously existing provisions in a different edition. The changes are not limited to this, they are broader, and the new regulations further restrict journalistic activity.

Question: What other changes concerning the media have been made to the Administrative Code? What do they contain?

Answer: As already mentioned, the new version of the Article 381 consists of 14 points, but we talked about only two of them, there are 12 more points. Many of them are aimed at regulating the activities of audiovisual media entities and are related to copyright. The rest imply the application of administrative sanctions for the content distributed by the media. What are these sanctions?

For violation of the rules, propaganda of actions contrary to the protection of health and the environment, publication of information about the guilt of a person without a court decision, a refutation, response and corrections are provided. As it is practiced, by a court decision, the media and journalists may be obliged to issue a refutation. The court's decision is final and must be executed.

Responsibility for non-compliance, refusal to execute court decisions, has already been established by law. The repetition of such sanctions in almost every related law is more like a threat to journalists. Or, when it comes to sanctions for encouraging actions against the protection of health and the environment, this regulation is extremely vague and can open up wide opportunities for abuse by journalists and the media.

Another problem is regulation related to punishment for the dissemination of information that represents a person guilty, without a court decision. This extremely problematic article is justified by the protection of the individual's rights to the presumption of innocence. This right is a very important right that needs to be protected.

In a number of decisions concerning Azerbaijan, the European Court found a violation of the plaintiffs' right to the presumption of innocence. In all these cases, the court concluded that the right to the presumption of innocence was violated by statements of State institutions - law enforcement agencies. But we have not seen any official sanctioned because of this. In certain specific situations, media, journalists may also violate the right to the presumption of innocence. However, it should be borne in mind that without a court decision, the dissemination of information indicating the guilt of a person cannot in all cases be regarded as a violation of this right.

The task of the media is to cover, weigh, and consider all events of public interest, including judicial and investigative ones. Performing this task, the media should be able to disseminate various opinions, judgments about whether specific individuals are guilty or not. Regulation restricting these opportunities is incompatible with the freedom of the media, forces the media to refrain from covering and distributing such topics.

Question: Why, in this case, do the media more often focus not on these fines and punishments, but on the issue of fining those who illegally interfere in the activities of journalists, and many experts present this as a continuation of the media reform?

This approach is just an indicator of the freedom and independence of the media. Unfortunately, in recent years there has been a tendency to tighten media legislation, to concentrate media regulation in the hands of the government. This is a general policy, and since the media is also under the control of the government, therefore it must inform in accordance with this policy, it is forced to pretend that it does not see regulators narrowing the free environment for the media. In general, changes, advocacy work around this is an integral part of the general policy. In the foreign-language versions of the leading media, a lot of space is given to the content of the old, and technically new changes that are used to create obstacles to the implementation of professional activities by journalists, there is no mention of sanctions that will be applied to journalists.

Question: What is the purpose of these changes? And what do these changes promise to the media and journalists?

Answer: The media is a huge force, everyone wants to subdue it. The establishment of maximum control over the media is the basis of government policy. All these are also integral parts of this policy. It is unlikely that actions aimed at keeping the media under control promise something positive for free, independent media.

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