Human Rights Activist Skeptical of Reopening Blocked News Sites Despite ECHR Ruling

Human Rights Activist Skeptical of Reopening Blocked News Sites Despite ECHR Ruling

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) recently ruled that the Azerbaijani government's blocking of access to several news portals, including azadlı,,, and, constitutes a violation of freedom of expression. This decision, which invokes Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, mandates that the Azerbaijani government pay €5,000 in compensation for moral damage to each of the four applicants, along with €1,000 in legal costs to the managers of,, and

The blockage of these websites dates back to 2017, with formal court decisions in 2018 enforcing the bans. Prior to this, in 2009, the government had already suspended the FM radio broadcasts of Azadliq Radio, followed by a raid on the Baku bureau of Radio Free Europe in 2014, leading to its closure.

In 2017-18, amendments to Azerbaijan's laws on information, informatization, and information protection, as well as the administrative offenses code, facilitated the government's ability to restrict access to various websites. Official justifications for these actions often cited state security interests and compliance with legislation.

Lawyer Javad Javadov Lawyer Javad Javadov told Radio Azadlig that  while the ECHR recognized the violation of freedom of expression under Article 10, it did not acknowledge breaches of Articles 18 (limits on the use of restrictions on rights) and 6 (right to a fair trial). Javadov emphasized that recognizing Article 10 alone is significant for eliminating violations and ensuring the removal of blocks from the sites. He also pointed out that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe would oversee the implementation of this decision, potentially necessitating a review of the cases.

Vugar Gurdganli, head of, expressed hope that the ECHR decision would bolster freedom of speech in Azerbaijan. He viewed the compensation as a symbolic gesture from Europe against media repression in Azerbaijan.

Malahat Zeynalli, Deputy Editor-In-Chief and wife of imprisoned Khural Media Group head Avaz Zeynalli, criticized the Azerbaijani authorities for their heavy-handed approach towards dissent and media freedom. She recounted the progressive measures taken against and their YouTube channel, leading to Avaz Zeynalli's politically motivated arrest in 2022.

Hikmet Babaoglu, a member of the Milli Majlis Committee on Human Rights, accused the ECHR of politically motivated decisions, suggesting that the court often manipulates the law to serve political ends. In an interview with Turan, he called for a more thorough investigation into the decisions and highlighted a perceived global information war against national interests.

Conversely, human rights advocate Rufat Safarov criticized the Azerbaijani government for its long-standing restrictions on free media. In an interview with Radio Azadlig, he emphasized that the domestic courts failed to conduct fair investigations, resulting in decisions that favored political authorities. Safarov also underscored the need for Azerbaijan to comply with the ECHR ruling, as mandated by Article 46.1 of the convention, although he remains skeptical about the government lifting the blocks on the websites.

Despite the ECHR's ruling, there is little optimism among human rights activists and media representatives that the Azerbaijani government will unblock the news sites. Historical precedents suggest that political motives often override legal obligations, and recent trends indicate a broader disengagement from European political and legal mechanisms by official Baku.

The decision, while a significant acknowledgment of the repression faced by Azerbaijani media, may not lead to immediate practical changes. Continuous advocacy and international pressure will be crucial in ensuring that the government upholds its commitments to human rights and freedom of expression.

Leave a review


Follow us on social networks

News Line