A joint statement on the right to freedom of expression in Azerbaijan was submitted to the Human Rights Council in its 20th session, by a group of NGOs, including Human Rights House Foundation.
The Azerbaijani government continues to systematically repress critical voices and quash the right to freedom of expression in Azerbaijan through intimidation, smear campaigns, arbitrary detention or arrests, harrassment, and violence committed in full impunity. Human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers and civil and political activists continue to face punishment and repression for exercising their right to freedom of expression. According to Azerbaijani Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS), more than 50 foreign and local journalists were harassed or attacked in 2011. Other journalists have been prevented from carrying out their work
In light of the increasing pressure and persecution of those exercising their right to freedom of expression, the joint statement calls for the Azerbaijani government to ensure the right to freedom of expression and the safety of those exercising this right. It also calls on the Azerbaijani government to uphold its committments to the Council of Europe for the protection of the right to freedom of expression, to undertake full and impartial investigations into the intimidation and violence against journalists, and to repeal recent draft amendments to the Law on Obtaining Information which would severely limit the right to freedom of information of the Azerbaijani people.