VIENNA—The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, condemned Monday a recent attack on a newspaperman in Azerbaijan and called upon the government to take urgent action to curtail violence against journalists.
“Azerbaijan’s authorities must take pro-active measures to prevent violence against the media,” Mijatović said. “Ensuring a safe and free environment for journalists is a key OSCE commitment and I must regretfully state that the government of Azerbaijan has so far failed to meet this requirement.”
On the night of 26 March six masked individuals abducted Seymur Haziyev, a reporter with the independent Azadliq newspaper, in a village near Baku. They reportedly put a sack on his head, beat him up and threatened him with worse violence if he continued to write critically about the government policies.
One of Azerbaijan’s main printed media outlets, Azadliq has been the target of repeated attacks and other forms of intimidation in the past, including imprisonment of staffers and contributors. Haziyev himself has been threatened and physically assaulted several times in recent years.
“This new attack on an independent media outlet is inadmissible and the Azerbaijani authorities must condemn it publicly. They must also do their utmost so that the perpetrators and masterminds of this and previous cases of violence against journalists – including the 2005 murder of a newspaper editor Elmar Huseynov – are brought to justice,” Mijatović stressed.