Jeanne Cavelier

Jeanne Cavelier

Baku / 14.05.20 / Turan: Jeanne Cavelier, head of the bureau for Eastern Europe and Central Asia of the “Reporters without Borders” organization, in an interview with Voice of America, shared her assessments of the state of the press in Azerbaijan.

Recently “Reporters without Borders” published the 2020 Freedom of the Press Index, according to which Azerbaijan is among the most backward countries in terms of press freedom. What is the reason for this?

To this question, Jeanne Cavelier said that Azerbaijan ranks 168th among 180 countries this year, dropping two steps compared to last year.

“After the dismissal of Ali Hasanov at the end of last year, we had a hope for change, because this adviser to the president was considered the main enemy of the media. However, promises that journalists and the press would be protected did not  come true. Authorities continue to ignore international criticism and continue to stifle the press and freedom of speech. Independent journalists and bloggers are arrested and blackmailed on unfounded charges. Therefore, we are very concerned about the situation in Azerbaijan,” she said.

She noted that even journalists and bloggers living outside the country are being harassed and blackmailed. At least five journalists are imprisoned in Azerbaijan. In addition, access to some independent sites is blocked.

Officials are not shy about arresting journalists even during parliamentary elections, when at least 18 journalists were subjected to physical pressure and their work was limited.

What is the reason for the increased pressure on the press recently? To this question, Cavelier said that after quarantine of the coronavirus, censorship in Azerbaijan intensified. Government abuses quarantine measures. For example, last week, the journalist of the Azadlig newspaper, Saadat Jahangir, was detained when she wanted to interview an opposition leader. At the same time, she was allegedly fined for violating the quarantine. This is despite the fact that according to statements by the same authorities, journalists are free to work during the quarantine period.

Moreover, three days later, prosecutors, under the guise of gas control workers, tricked into Jahangir’s apartment and searched it. Having taken the journalist, they interrogated her for 8 hours, not allowing them to call a lawyer. She was also not returned her personal money taken during the search.

Another example is Natig Isbatov. The freelancer was detained while covering a protest rally and

Arrested for 30 days also for violation of the quarantine regime.

“We believe that the amendments to the law on information adopted on March 17 are very dangerous for freedom of the press. Officials may blame online media owners for publishing incorrect information and punish them. Journalists are forced to use only official pandemic information. Even users of social networks cannot share unofficial information. It bothers us very much. ”

What can the international community do to prevent this persecution? Answering this question, Jeanne Cavelier said that the international community should put pressure on Baku, especially those European countries that trade with Azerbaijan. -0-


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