Prosecution of journalists and human rights defenders
Violence against journalists
Legislative and other restrictions on freedom of the media
International response to Azerbaijan's repression of free expression
Communication with Azerbaijani government officials.
"The government of Azerbaijan is engaged in concerted efforts to limit the space for freedom of expression in the country. Senior government officials frequently pursue criminal defamation and other cases against journalists and human rights defenders criticizing the government. Dozens of journalists have been prosecuted and imprisoned or fined. Police and sometimes unidentified assailants are able to physically attack journalists and human rights defenders with impunity, deliberately interfering with their efforts to investigate human rights abuses and other issues of public interest or in retaliation for their work. Recent legislative amendments restrict journalists' ability to use video, photo or sound recording without the explicit consent of an individual even at public events. The government also banned all broadcasting of foreign radio stations on FM frequencies beginning in 2009. State antagonism toward independent and opposition media has been a serious problem in Azerbaijan for a number of years. Many journalists and editors regularly resort to self-censorship to avoid criminal prosecutions or other repercussions for critical reporting. Dozens of journalists have fled Azerbaijan in recent years fearing for their safety. These trends are particularly alarming given the upcoming November 7, 2010 parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, as vibrant public discourse is crucial for a free and fair vote. The government of Azerbaijan should take immediate steps to abolish criminal penalties for defamation. They should conduct prompt, thorough, and impartial investigations to end impunity for violence against journalists and human rights defenders. Azerbaijan's international partners should use every opportunity to urge the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure respect for freedom of expression and to release imprisoned journalists."--P.  of cover.