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The EBU must stand up for press freedom in Azerbaijan

The Committee to Protect Journalists and several other media and human rights groups have issued a letter after participating in the May 2 European Broadcasting Union-organized workshop on freedom of the media in Azerbaijan.

The workshop was held at the broadcasting union's headquarters in Geneva on the eve of World Press Freedom Day and in the run-up to the Eurovision Song Contest, which Baku will host later this month.

Though pleased at the opportunity to participate in a workshop on media freedom in Azerbaijan, CPJ and the other undersigned groups criticized the event for falling short of securing clear, tangible commitments from the Azerbaijani government to amend its alarming record of press freedom violations in the run-up to Eurovision.

We are deeply concerned by the defiant attitude shown by Azerbaijani government representative Ali Hasanov, also an adviser to President Ilham Aliyev, at the workshop, which invalidates his stated willingness to have a constructive dialogue with critics. We are also disappointed at the failure of the EBU to publicly criticize or in any way challenge Azerbaijani authorities on their press freedom, human rights, and freedom of expression record--this has left an impression of wilful blindness toward the government's repressive policies.

To read the entire letter to the EBU, click here.

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