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Brussels, 9 November 2012
Enhancing freedom of expression in Azerbaijan
Joint statement on media freedom by European Commission, Council of Europe and Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
At the end of a meeting with the Azerbaijani media on the safety of journalists held yesterday in Baku, Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and Neelie Kroes, Vice-President of the European Commission, stated that they stand ready to support progress in Azerbaijan in the field of securing the right to freedom of expression and media freedom, both offline and online.
Welcoming the readiness of the Azerbaijani authorities to engage in dialogue with them and to pursue cooperation activities in these fields, they stressed that a clear sign of the Azerbaijani Government´s commitment to enhancing freedom of expression would be the initiation of effective and transparent investigations into crimes against journalists, thereby putting an end to continuing impunity in this field.
Another sign of progress would be the release from detention of all those journalists, bloggers and citizens reporting, who have been deprived of their liberty as a result of expressing their views.
The adoption of the necessary legislative changes, including the decriminalisation of defamation in compliance with the relevant judgment of the European Court of Human Rights would also testify to this commitment.
Finally, steps to strengthen the independent and impartial review of cases related to freedom of expression by the judiciary would be key in this respect.
Nils Muižnieks, Dunja Mijatovic and Neelie Kroes also stressed the role of the media profession itself in upholding genuine freedom of expression with adherence to high professional standards and in developing a shared vision of these issues and solidarity among all sections of the media.
The three officials reiterated their willingness to continue to work with all stakeholders, including the authorities, media professionals, other online actors and civil society, to achieve the attainment of the aforementioned goals.