The state of the media for the World Press Freedom Day in 3 May - Mushvig Alasvarli


May 3 is World Press Freedom Day. Traditionally, the current state of freedom of speech, expression and media is discussed. Inadmissibility of censorship, release of imprisoned journalists, pressure, threats and punishment of journalists are in the focus of attention. According to a report by the European Federation of Journalists, The cases have continued for the last year.

The most worrying point in this global process is that the trend of change for the worse has in recent years spread to Europe, the most civilized and democratic part of the world.

The AJF's report on May 3 shows that media freedom in Europe continued to deteriorate significantly in 2020-21. It was noted that in 2015, 14 international organizations joined forces to prevent the negative trends in the field of freedom of speech, expression and media, and established the "Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists" under the Council of Europe.

They tried to stop the process by acting in a coordinated manner. But this has not yet been achieved, on the contrary, the tendency to change for the worse has increased.

For example, a comparison of events in the field of media freedom in Europe over the past 5 years is given.

In the near future, referring to the murder of two Spanish journalists in April 2021, it is noted that 31 journalists have been killed in the last 5 years for their activities in the European Union.

Among the member states of the Council of Europe, 41 journalists were killed.

There are currently 238 imprisoned journalists in the world, 91 of whom are from Europe.

In the last year alone, there have been 873 threats against journalists around the world, 245 of which have been registered in European countries.

When the platform was established under the Council of Europe six years ago, the number of cases of harassment, pressure and threats against journalists in Europe was twice lower than in 2021. This shows that now the situation has worsened twice.

Interestingly, along with Russia, Italy, Serbia and the United Kingdom are among the countries where journalists are most affected by physical violence.

France, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus and Poland are among the countries with the highest persecution.

On the eve of World Press Freedom Day on May 3, the AJF called on Council of Europe Secretary General Maria Pejcinovic Buric to call on European governments to "show a stronger political will to end the deterioration and protect journalists and independent journalism."

On the eve of the World Press Freedom Day on May 3, the Trade Union of Journalists (JUJ) identified the most notable trends in the Azerbaijani media. It was noted that over the past year, the Azerbaijani media space has been influenced by the reform process. Notable trends in this period are classified:

- It was noted that the state and government representatives are active in the field of social media, interactive relations with the audience, intensify their contacts with the media. This trend, which began to be observed in 2018, accelerated in 2020-21.

- During this period, there was an intensification of live contacts between President Ilham Aliyev and First Vice President Mehriban Aliyeva with both national and transnational media. Meetings of presidential aides Hikmet Hajiyev, Anar Alakbarov, director of the MEDIA Agency Ahmad Ismayilov with media representatives became typical.

- In 2020, like other spheres of life, media institutions were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 230 journalists in Azerbaijan have been infected with COVID-19, 10 of them have died.

- The state has taken a number of steps to reduce the impact of the pandemic on the media in Azerbaijan; The program "Support for small and medium-sized businesses during the pandemic" also applies to media entrepreneurs. The program provided state support to the media, which was an incentive to preserve jobs in the media.

- There is no media organization in Azerbaijan that has ceased its activities, especially under the conditions of the pandemic. At the same time, jobs were cut. It is estimated that the cuts and job losses during the pandemic affected 4 percent of media workers in the country.

- In 2020, 3 of the national broadcasting media outlets have partially suspended their activities or reduced their frequency. At the same time, in 2020, about 15 new online media outlets will be launched.

- For the first time in Azerbaijan, the activities of freelance journalists have been recognized at the level of official bodies. Taking into account the appeal of the Press Council of Azerbaijan on behalf of the country's journalists, the Operational Headquarters under the Cabinet of Ministers also included journalists who obtained a TIN and worked freely during the strict quarantine regime. It should be noted that although the number of freelance journalists is high, there is no legal regulation of their activities in Azerbaijan.

- Seven of the people named in the reports of international organizations as "imprisoned journalists" were released by presidential pardons in 2020-21 or received suspended sentences. However, the issue of imprisoned journalists has not been reset. Special attention was paid to the convictions of Polad Aslanov and Afgan Sadigli. It is desirable that this issue be resolved once and for all against the background of reforms in the country's media, that imprisoned journalists be unequivocally released, and that Azerbaijan's name not be mentioned in this issue again.

- He noted that in times of increasing political activity, in extreme situations, there is a growing interest in creating an abundance of information, ensuring the accessibility of information, intensifying contacts of media representatives with relevant government agencies. Among them are the work of the "Elections" Information Center, which was activated during the parliamentary elections in 2020, daily briefings held by the Operational Headquarters under the Cabinet of Ministers during the strict quarantine regime in accordance with the COVID-19 pandemic, the activities of the 44-day Military Information Center can be shown. Daily briefings with the participation of government agencies and officials, prompt answers to journalists' questions showed that working with information is one of the important directions of state policy in Azerbaijan.