Azerbaijan refuses to register independent media
Independent media denied state registration
Some independent media outlets in Azerbaijan have been denied state registration, according to lawyer Khalid Agaliyev. State registration of media is one of the requirements of a new media law which has been criticized both in Azerbaijan itself and by international organizations. An article of the law which requires media to have “work experience” before registration, among others, has been denounced by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.
- How a sex therapist started teaching sex education at a school in Baku
- Scandalous statements by Lukashenko. Opinion from Yerevan
- “We are trying to be strong.” Stories from relatives of Georgian fighters killed in Ukraine
Since October 14, 2022, the State Media Development Agency (MEDIA in short) has been accepting applications for state registration of Azerbaijani media. But as Agaliyev said, the department has refused this to some media.
The Media Development Agency (MEDIA) was established by the Decree of the President of Azerbaijan on January 12 to carry out a media development policy. The media law was adopted by Parliament on December 30, 2021 and approved by presidential decree on February 8, 2022.
Agaliyev did not name which media were denied registration, but according to many experts, they are independent.
The reason for the refusal is Article 74.1.2 of the Law “On Media”, concerning the duration of the function of media.
According to this article, media are required to have been in operation for a certain amount of time before applying for registration, but how long is not clear.
“Such a requirement limits freedom of expression and is nothing but censorship,” Turan news agency quoted Agaliyev as saying.
“Among the media that were denied registration, there are those that started working even when the leaders of MEDIA were in school. These journalists were already known and the courts ruled against them. Consequently, the state then recognized these media outlets and journalists, but the Agency refuses to register,” Agaliyev added.
In his opinion, we should expect soon lawsuits on the claims of rejected media.
Interestingly, on the Agency’s website in the “statistics” section, the names of registered and rejected media outlets are not listed.
The agency itself has not offered comment.