Independent journalists have issued a statement on a new draft law currently being prepared in Azerbaijan.
A new media law has been being discussed behind closed doors since January of 2021, after President Aliyev signed a decree
the Media Development Agency.
Little is known about the new media law which has yet to be enacted, but one known fact is that it will cover all media outlets, both print and online. The project envisages a simplified system for licensing internet television channels, and channels will need to meet certain requirements to apply.
Independent journalists issued a statement calling for the law to be opened for public discussion.
In their statement, the journalists claim that taking into account the steps taken so far against freedom of speech and press in Azerbaijan, the new bill is not aimed at the development of the media, but at restricting media.
"Regular harassment of journalists, blocking of websites, bans on journalists leaving the country, and imprisonment show how much pressure the media environment in the country is under", the statement, signed by over twenty journalists, read.
The statement also referred to international assessments of media freedom in the country that peg Azerbaijan as near the bottom in the world.