The rise and fall of the Press Council
2017 November 25 ( Saturday ) 10:52:15
The Azerbaijani government, which continues to surprise the enlightened world with its know-how in the sphere of suppressing freedom of speech, on the eve illegally blocked 14 information sites.
Russian sources report that during the visit of Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev to Baku on September 30, when issues of information security and neutralization of objectionable sites were discussed, the domestic propagandist shared experience in a peculiar form: "We simply close them." This has led to perplexity even of the old Russian KGB agents.
The very nature of the rapid decision-making on the closure of websites - without respect for the lawfulness and procedure of proceedings for violation of the laws on state secrets, information, and protection of information and telecommunications, etc., points to the hand of the presidential assistant, who reminds a person of notorious propagandist, whose name has become common.
But the most interesting thing is that the site-controlled blocking of websites was made by the board of the Press Council (PC), which first, in violation of its own Regulations, and then of the Law, appealed to the Ministry of Communications to block websites.
The board recorded them in the so-called "black list" and unlawfully accused of racketeering. Evidence that these sites are racketeering, the public was not represented, as there were no investigative actions, there was no court decision that has the exclusive right to recognize the fact of racketeering.
Further worse, the Press Council on November 19 http://www.presscouncil.az/az/show.news.php?guid=d143c617-cd0b-11e7-8210-6267c8904e68 appealed to law enforcement agencies to take action against the press and sites from the "black list" in connection with "racketeering activities".
In the official communication, the PC complains that, despite the "results of a purposeful struggle in this direction, abuses are still taking place in the country's information space."
"The Press Council constantly keeps under control the activities of the media that cause dissatisfaction among different sectors of society, individuals, business entities, investigates them thoroughly and objectively and takes appropriate measures. However, since the decisions of the Press Council are of a public censure, they often do not give effective results against violators of the law and professional ethics," the appeal says.
However, the PC did not provide the society and state structures with a detailed analysis of the activities of the closed sites, information, citations and other facts, evidence of the violation of professional and ethical standards, the law on the media, etc. Traditionally, there were only unfounded conclusions and "sentences without trial and effect."
What does the Law say?
The law "On Information, Informatization and Information Protection" prohibits the dissemination by owners Internet domains and websites of information representing state secrets propagating violence and religious extremism, terrorism and its financing, calling for national, racial or religious hatred and enmity, as well as violent change constitutional system of the state.
It is prohibited to place information on the manufacture of firearms, ammunition, explosives, narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, pornographic materials, as well as offensive and deceptive information, including those violating personal privacy.
The law obliges the hosting provider and the Internet provider in case of detection of prohibited information, inform the owner of the site and delete it. Otherwise, access to the resource is limited in court, and the owners of hosting or providers themselves are punished.
By law, prohibited information must be removed within eight hours after the warning. In cases of threat to the interests of the state and society protected by law, or in the event of a threat to the life and health of people, access to this Internet information resource may be temporarily restricted administratively.
Nothing like this happened in this case - there is no threat to the state and society, there is no expertise, there is no official notification of violation of articles of the law, there is no court decision.
The PC can decide whether the actions of one of the parties to the conflict in the press are ethical or unethical, and help resolve the conflict, but no more. Therefore, the appeal of the CAP in the Ministry of Communications with an appeal to block websites without a court decision is incorrectly pointed out by the media lawyer Alesker Mammadli.
In addition, the issue of defamation and insult is controversial and such an accusation must be proven in a pre-trial order or in court.
On the history of the creation and fall of the Press Council
The Press Council was created as a self-regulating public media structure based on the European experience of Germany, France and other countries.
For the first time in autumn 1998 at the Baku conference on freedom of speech, organized by the Council of Europe, OSCE and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan put forward the idea of creating the Press Council.
The need for such a body was dictated by the liquidation by that time of the Ministry of Information and the need to protect the media by improving their quality, sustainability and dialogue with the authorities and society.
The procedure for the creation of the Press Council was completed on March 15, 2003 at the constituent congress, with the participation of more than 130 media and journalistic organizations. An important role in the creation of the joint venture was played by Arif Aliyev, the head of the journalist association Yeni Nesil, as well as the editor of a number of independent and opposition media.
The Congress adopted the Professional-Ethical Code of the Azerbaijani journalist, which was to become the Constitution of the press. The joint venture, on the one hand, was regarded as an organ of self-regulation, raising the level of professionalism, morality, and on the other, as a pretrial body. The main task was to prevent media trials and instill in them respect for law and personality.
Representatives of the independent, opposition, government press and the public were included in the press board to establish a public dialogue.
However, all the attempts of healthy forces in the journalistic environment to solve the tasks set by the Congress were ultimately defeated because of the pernicious policy of individuals in the Presidential Administration who took the course to destroy independent media by weakening their economic base, prosecution, physical punishment, bribery and blackmail.
As a result, the press was under the total control of a number of persons of the Presidential Administration. The state finances the media in an illegal way, officially through the Media Development Assistance Fund, donations of free apartments for the most loyal.
The professional and moral level of the media has significantly deteriorated - they lost influence on public opinion, ceased to perform the function of public control, a platform for pluralism of opinions.
The media have been turned into a means of propaganda, the effectiveness of which is indicated by the reader's departure to alternative information communities, foreign information worlds.
In this sense, the Press Council has become the personification of the disease and degradation of the Azerbaijani press. The very fact of using CAP of punitive instruments such as "black lists", stamps of racketeers, regular treatment by law enforcement agencies, attempts to hide behind the force structures, forcing them to commit unlawful actions, is evidence of the fall and disorientation of the PC. This means that the PC lost the ability to perform the function of self-regulation, pre-trial institution, consolidating factor. It lost its inherent essence.
Public paralysis of ATP
As a logical result of the withdrawal of the PC from the principles of professional and ethical standards of journalism was the fall of public activity over the past seven years.
Let's turn to the website of the Press Council http://www.presscouncil.az/az/.
Section "Conclusions and decisions", the last conclusion is dated 2010, and the last decision in 2009.
Section "Events" - the last meeting of the CAP is dated 17.06.2011, the Commission on Complaints - 04.11.2011,
Section "Report" - the last report of the SAP is dated December 30, 2011.
Riot on the ship
The progressing disease has reached the point that the editor of the pro-government website AzToday.az, Elmidar Aliyev, published an open letter to the head of state Ilham Aliyev, where he criticizes his assistant Ali Hasanov, who has been in charge of the Azerbaijani press since the mid-1990s.
The appeal notes that since 2009, huge funds have been allocated for the development of the media, but in this area "there are no achievements, and the prestige of the press in the society is steadily falling." The allocated government funds for this purpose only resulted in the enrichment of a group of people, noted in circulation.
Assistant President Ali Hasanov, head of the State Fund for Press Support Bahar Safarli and head of the Press Council Aflatun Amashov created the status of "inviolable persons".
"Today, journalists are allowed to do everything except the criticism of Ali Hasanov and his favorite personnel: in August this year, the Prosecutor General's Office issued a warning to our site for criticizing their" treacherous position. "This is about appropriating funds, abuse of office.
"The reason for this is, undoubtedly, the corruption interests of Ali Hasanov," the editor asserts, "It is thanks to this policy of Ali Hasanov that an unpopular method such as blocking websites began to be applied in Azerbaijan," Elmidar Aliyev said.
The leaders of the recently blocked 14 websites of Azerbaijan are also considered the culprit of this by the Presidential Social and Political Department, the Press Council and the Media Development Support Foundation. They told Turan about this.
"The reason for blocking the websites we run is the publication of critical articles about the above structures," Ikram Rahimov, editor-in-chief of Realliq.info website, said.