On the seventh anniversary of editor Elmar Huseynov’s murder, the International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan (IPGA) remains deeply concerned regarding the continuing cycle of violence against journalists and impunity for their attackers in Azerbaijan. The IPGA calls for the authorities to bring Elmar Huseynov’s murderers to justice and to seriously investigate and prosecute all cases of violence against journalists.
Saturday marked the seventh anniversary of the murder of Monitor editor-in-chief Elmar Huseynov, who was fatally gunned down in his apartment building in a well-organised attack in 2005. Since Elmar Huseynov’s murder, there have been dozens of violent attacks against journalists in Azerbaijan, including the murder of prominent journalist and writer Rafig Tagi in November 2011. None of these attacks have been seriously investigated or prosecuted, resulting in a climate of impunity for those who wish to use violence to silence critical voices.
“In the seven years since Elmar Huseynov’s murder, the Azerbaijani authorities have failed to protect the right to freedom of expression in nearly every respect. Not only have they allowed for the emergence of a climate of impunity for violence against journalists, they continue to arrest journalists and bloggers for voicing critical opinions and political activists and ordinary citizens for taking to the streets in protest. Azerbaijan must take immediate steps to address this alarming state of affairs and fulfil their international human rights commitments”, said ARTICLE 19 Executive Director Agnès Callamard.
“Seven years on, the killers of our colleague Elmar Huseynov walk free while independent journalists in Azerbaijan continue to face harassment, obstruction, violent retaliation, politically motivated prosecution, imprisonment, and murder for their work. Azerbaijan must demonstrate its commitment to justice by prosecuting those responsible for Huseynov’s assassination as well as other crimes against the press”, said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova.
“The continuing impunity for Elmar Huseynov’s killers and the lack of results in the investigation into Rafig Tagi’s murder cast a dark shadow over all Azerbaijani journalists, infusing a sense of insecurity and despair. Threats and physical attacks have become commonplace for them. Azerbaijan has never been ranked so low in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. The authorities could put an end to this situation if they wanted. It is high time they acted”, said Reporters Without Borders Director Olivier Basille.
The IPGA condemns the use of violence to restrict freedom of expression and calls for the authorities to end this vicious cycle by immediately and impartially investigating all attacks against journalists and bringing those responsible to justice.