AZERBAIJAN - Protests against new media law




On January 1st, a new media law was passed by parliament. It includes a register for journalists and applies to all who broadcast or publish for Azerbaijani audiences. The new law severely restricts press freedom - especially the freedom of independent journalists.


Dozens of journalists protested the new law in Baku in late December. One reporter was injured by police. The latter tried to prevent the rally and remove the journalists' signs.


According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), journalists in Azerbaijan face great repression. On the World Press Freedom Index, Azerbaijan is ranked 167 out of 180 countries.


Journalists expressed great displeasure and anger against the new law. This is because it would also give the government the option to decide who is officially recognized as a journalist. The register would also expose details about reporters and their contacts, preventing independent journalistic work in particular. In addition, they fear that with the new law, journalists with criminal records would be excluded from accreditation, thus preventing independent and free reporting on the government.