Azerbaijani authorities must end legal harassment of independent news agencies through false accusations of tax-evasion or under-declaring profits, the resolution adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) says.
“Threats to media freedom and the safety of journalists in Europe” resolution authored by British MP George Fulkes was adopted on January 28 at the PACE winter session, contact.az reported.
Part of the report’s resolution speaks separately about the situation in Azerbaijan. Official Baku is urged to change radically the "hostile environment that seriously restricts media freedom."
“In particular, it is necessary to prohibit the use of criminal law with the aim of silencing independent journalists who are systematically threatened with unfounded criminal charges and are trumped up with fabricated evidence;
Urgently consider all cases of conviction of journalists and media workers, release all detainees of substantiated evidence of criminal activity;
Refrain from the ban on journalists leaving the country;
Put an end to the prosecution of independent news agencies through false accusations of tax evasion or understatement;
Stop systematically blocking access to independent news sites;
Stop any administrative and political pressure on Turan’s only independent news agency and on the Reporters Freedom and Security Institute,” the report said.
The document concluded: “Azerbaijan is one of the most hostile countries for journalists in terms of litigation, sentencing and imprisonment. Since 2017, 18 criminal cases have been brought against journalists or the media, and their employees have been convicted and imprisoned.