January 29, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a new resolution calling for the protection of journalists’ rights and freedom of expression in Europe.
The resolution was adopted in the wake of the recent attacks targeting the French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
“Condemning in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack on the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris on January 7, 2014, the Parliamentary Assembly reiterates the importance of media freedom for democracy. Media create the public space for the dissemination of information and the expression of opinions. Media freedom therefore constitutes an important index for democracy, political freedoms and the rule of law in a country or region. Any attack on media and journalists is an attack on a democratic society” reads the resolution.
The resolution adopted by 77 votes in favor also mentions the cases of Khadija Ismayilova, Emin Huseynov and other journalists targeted by Azerbaijani authorities as a result of their work.
“Concerned by the detention of Khadija Ismayilova, the criminal charges against Emin Huseynov and the closure of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Baku in December 2014, the Assembly calls on the authorities of Azerbaijan to respect the right to presumption of innocence as well as freedom of expression of foreign media in Azerbaijan.”
The Assembly also calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to fully investigate the violent deaths of journalists Elmar Huseynov (2005) and Rafig Tagi (2011).
In addition, the Assembly urges the government of Azerbaijan to amend the legislation against defamation in order to bring it into line with Azerbaijan’s obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights.
In 2013, PACE voted on a resolution calling Azerbaijan to honor its “obligations and commitments” as a member state with an overwhelming majority of votes in favor (196 vs. 13). However, the Assembly failed to adopt a second resolution calling on political prisoners with 79 in favor and 125 against.