The draft Law "On Media" was prepared behind closed doors without  participation of independent media

Baku/13.12.21/Turan: A public discussion of the draft Law "On Media" was held today on the air of Toplum TV in the format of a video conference, with participation of the  well-known media editors, journalists, bloggers, lawyers, etc.  In particular, lawyers Alesker Mammadli (moderator of the discussions) and Khalid Agaliyev, director of IA Turan Mehman Aliyev, chairman of the Azerbaijan Party for Democracy and Welfare, economist Gubad Ibadoglu, journalists Shahveled Chobanoglu, Rauf Mirkadyrov, Emin Huseynov, member of the Divan (Supreme Political Council) political party "Musavat" Alya Yagublu, political psychologist Samir Gasimli, blogger Mehman Huseynov, TV critic, honored journalist, professor Gulu Maharramli, and others.

The bill was promulgated a few days earlier, on December 10, when it was discussed in the Milli Majlis with the participation of 70 representatives of the media and NGOs.

According to the participants of the video conference,  the bill devoids a conceptual basis, in addition to this, it contradicts all paragraphs of Article 50 (Freedom of information) of the Constitution of the country and Article 10 (Freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Forum participants are convinced that the purpose of the bill is to restore and legalize censorship. This is at least supported by the fact that the draft Law provides for the establishment of the status of a journalist, the creation of a register of journalists and the introduction of a single journalistic certificate, testing of journalists. All this is nothing more than an excess of  powers by state bodies and interference in journalistic activities and the establishment of control over them. It is also supposed to restrict the right of journalists to live abroad, which is not only wrong, but also illegal. Everything is aimed at reducing the number of media outlets and the journalists themselves. In addition, many articles are vague and create room for varied interpretations, which creates fertile ground for future charges and prosecutions. Obviously, on its basis, the corresponding changes will be made to the administrative and criminal laws.

The Article 21 of the draft law states that video files and photographs about someone, even if it is not about disclosing information about their private life, can be disseminated only with their written permission. And this does not contribute to the development of journalism. After all,  the talk is about  electoral violations, corruption, etc.

In addition, the bill makes it almost impossible to work with sources of information, and some topics are completely taboo. There is also a desire to oppress bloggers, as well as all citizens who today are sources of information, a desire to silence society.

The authorities' desire to take control of Internet television and social networks is also causing concern. This is exactly what the new Law provides. This is done in a "veiled" form - the term "Platform" (as they call the Internet) and "Platform Operator" (Internet TV and social networks) are introduced. Moreover, the bill states that the Platform Operator must obtain a license. The desire to take control of the Internet is obvious, which is not at all surprising.

According to Samira Gasimli, the survey showed that 81.5% of respondents are aware of the political confusion taking place in the country and beyond its borders and events. At the same time, 46% of respondents draw information from their social networks and only 29% from traditional TV channels. This is what dictated the authorities' desire to take control of alternative TV channels and social networks.

Among other things, this bill is also eclectic. It is a collection of fragments of different laws. For this reason, the same concepts contained in the text have different terms, there are repetitions, mutually exclusive points. It is also badly edited.

The participants in the discussions  concluded  that the MM should suspend the discussion of the bill. It is necessary to prepare an alternative draft of the Law "On Media". However, there are serious doubts that an alternative project can be adopted. Nevertheless, journalists and the public do not intend to sit idly, and in case of failure,  will to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights with claims.

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Although the appearance of the bill "On Media" against the background of the complete fiasco of the authorities' propaganda machine was predictable, nevertheless, it came as a complete surprise to society.

By the way, in violation of the law, the Media Development Agency and the Milli Majlis did not publish the bill on their web pages. It is also noteworthy that critical journalists and experts were not invited to the discussion.

It also turned out that the Draft Law had been prepared since the spring of last year behind closed doors without discussing it with the representatives of the independent media and lawyers specializing in the field of freedom of expression. The authorities plan that the bill will enter into force by January 1, 2022.

 

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