The new draft law “On Media” passed the first reading in the Milli Majlis on December 14.
National media experts argue that the draft law contradicts the Code of Ethics for Journalists and the relevant articles of the Constitution on freedom of expression and speech, as well as the country’s commitments to international organizations.
If approved, one of the most polemic points of the law is the so-called journalist card. According to the proposed text, in order to to exercise the profession of journalist, one must apply for a permission card with the designated executive authority. The card is valid for three years and without it, it is not allowed to work in the media.
Additionally, the draft law establishes procedures for the establishment of print media, online media and foreign media representatives to operate in Azerbaijan. The criticism made to these proposals is the increase of bureaucracy and discretionary power of government agencies to approve media activities in the country.
The new draft law “On Media” follows President Ilham Aliyev’s attempt to legislate media in Azerbaijan. In January this year, the Media Development Agency was established by a decree made by him, which also planned the adoption of a law to regulate media activities. Moreover, despite Azerbaijan’s commitments, the bill has not been sent to the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe for comment.