Reporters Without Borders famous organization has slammed the Azerbaijani authorities regarding the blocking of independent news websites in the country.
The source notes that the Azerbaijani authorities have blocked five leading independent news websites in the country for the past five weeks – newspaper Azadlig, Meydan TV and Turan TV, the programme Azerbaycan Saati and Radio Azadlig.
Recent legislative amendments gave the government the power to block any website “posing a danger to the state or society.” Ordered by the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technology, this “preventive” blocking requires subsequent approval by a court – a formality in a country where the justice system acts as the executive’s armed wing.
“By blocking five leading news websites, President Ilham Aliyev’s government is demolishing all the remaining vestiges of media freedom in Azerbaijan,” said Johann Bihr, the head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk.
“The persecution of the government’s critics continues to intensify online, offline and even among exiles. The international community must finally end the government’s impunity and hold it to account for its systematic violations of the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” the representative of the Reporters Without Borders notes.
Azadlig newspaper was forced to stop producing a print edition under pressure from the authorities in September 2016. The newspaper’s financial director, Faiq Amirov, has for the past eight months been in prison.
Several members of Azadlig’s staff , have been forced to flee the country in recent months to escape a similar fate.
Reporters Without Borders reminds that Azerbaijan is ranked 162nd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2017 World Press Freedom Index and Aliyev, whose powers were reinforced by a referendum last September, is on RSF’s list of press freedom predators.