OSCE Representative reiterates call on authorities in Azerbaijan to decriminalize defamation
BRUSSELS, 17 November 2016 – Following steps in Azerbaijan to expand criminal insult provisions, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today reiterated her call on the authorities to reform the country’s defamation legislation.
On 15 November the Prosecutor-General submitted to the Parliament amendments to the Criminal Code, extending the application of liability for discrediting the honour and dignity of the President to expression online.
The amendments also expand the criminal provisions on slander and insult by introducing aggravated responsibility for online expression from “fake accounts”. The penalties include prison sentences.
“If adopted, these amendments would again send a negative signal about the state of free expression and free media in the country. I reiterate my call on the authorities to fulfil their longstanding promise to decriminalize defamation in Azerbaijan,” Mijatović said, offering her Office’s support in such a process and in achieving much needed improvement of the media freedom situation in the country.
The Representative has repeatedly urged the authorities to reform defamation legislation in line with OSCE commitments and international principles on freedom of the media (see www.osce.org/fom/102413, www.osce.org/fom/101513 and www.osce.org/baku/77483).
Mijatović is in Brussels participating in an international conference on media pluralism and democracy.
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.