12 February 2010, 19:00
PACE Rapporteurs on Azerbaijan worry about Fatullaev's life
The case of Einullah Fatullaev, editor-in-chief of the newspaper "Real Azerbaijan", who was convicted in Azerbaijan, is causing many doubts and gives rise to worry for his life. This was stated by Andres Herkel, Rapporteur of the PACE Monitoring Committee.
The situation with the freedom of speech and press in Azerbaijan was one of the main topics of the talks held during the visit to the country on February 8-11 of Andres Herkel and Joseph Debona Grech, Rapporteurs of the PACE Monitoring Committee.
"Right after arrival in Baku, prior to go to Gyandzha, we visited the young bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Gadjizade at their penitentiary establishment. Their case is in the focus of world media, and the international public does not believe that the inquiry was fair," Mr Herkel said at the press conference on the outcomes of his visit to Azerbaijan.
In his opinion, even if we rely on the correct inquiry into the bloggers' case, all the same they were inadequately severely punished.
Concerning the case of the convicted journalist, Mr Herkel said: "Certainly, along with the bloggers' case, we raised the issue of the new charge against Einullah Fatullaev. This case also causes enough doubts. I want to say openly: I'm already afraid for Fatullaev's life, and I'd like to hope that my fears are vain."
According to his version, the authorities answered to his concern about Fatullaev's fate that they expected a fair decision of the European Court on his case.
Another issue, causing the Rapporteurs' anxiety, was putting of the draft amendments to the legislation banning a person's photo and video filming without his or her permit into the agenda of the parliament.
"We raised the issue at the meeting with Oktai Asadov, Speaker of the Parliament; and we were assured that making amendments would never mean that journalists would be punished for reporting about mass actions. But we're still anxious, as misuse may happen at enforcing the laws," Mr Herkel has noted.
The co-Rapporteurs have also discussed the issues connected with NGOs, in particular, the problem of registering them. "This problem persists, even despite several decisions on the issue by the European Court on Human Rights (ECtHR)," said Andres Herkel.
Another problem, in his opinion, is the absence of equal access of political forces to television. He believes that there can be no arguments in favour of systematic deprivation of the opposition of access to broadcasting.
Mr Herkel's next problem was the widespread practice of non-enforcement of judgements. "The Minister of Justice admitted the presence of the problem, especially on judgements on property rights. We were assured that special measures to this end are prepared," he concluded.
Author: Faik Medzhid; Source: CK correspondent