The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has sharply criticised the jailing of journalists in Azerbaijan and called for the reform of laws that criminalise the work of reporters and editors.
Speaking at an international media conference in Baku, the IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said that officials using repressive laws were silencing critical voices. There are currently nine journalists in jail in Azerbaijan, two of them awaiting trial.
“Journalism suffers from a regime of laws which undermine and betray Azerbaijan’s constitutional commitment to free expression. It is time for change,” said White, calling for urgent action to free jailed journalists, to change the law and “end the practice of political and judicial intimidation of media.”
In meetings with government officials, journalists and media leaders White said that the IFJ would support partnership with the authorities to try to improve levels of professionalism within a media system which is plagued by political interference, poor editorial standards and divisions within the community of journalists.
“Journalism will prosper when politicians on all sides – government and opposition alike – can embrace the reality of pluralism: that all opinions, even those you may find offensive, can be expressed,” he said.
He said the IFJ would work closely with its affiliate and independent professional groups to develop a comprehensive ethical journalism programme.
“Journalism must operate within an ethical framework,” he said. “But government must also accept that jailing journalists does not solve problems of professionalism. It only makes matters worse.”
For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 2207
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide