In response to an Azerbaijani court’s decision to ban five independent media websites, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“By banning independent media websites, the Azerbaijani government has disproved President Ilham Aliyev’s most frequently used argument that Azerbaijan enjoys freedom on the internet,” said Robert Herman, vice-president for international programs. “This decision can be used in the future as a precedent for banning other online media and further curbing freedom of expression in the country. Azerbaijan’s western partners should hold the Azerbaijani government accountable for this decision made in violation of its international obligations, including those under the European Convention on Human Rights.”
On May 12, Baku Sabayil District Court banned five independent media websites on the grounds of being harmful and dangerous for security: Azadliq newspaper, Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty Azerbaijani Service, Meydan TV, Azerbaijan Saati website and video channel, and Turan TV video channel. The Ministry of Communications has blocked access to these websites in Azerbaijan since March 27.
Azerbaijan is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2017, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2017, and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2016, and receives a democracy score of 6.93, on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2017.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.