Azerbaijan Drops to 168th Place in World Press Index

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Baku / 22.04.20 / Turan: The Reporters Without Borders released the annual Press Freedom Index in the World, which assesses the state of freedom of speech and the media in the world.

The report analyzed the situation in 180 countries. Azerbaijan, like many years in a row, was among the countries where the press is very poor. Compared to last year, the situation worsened even more and Azerbaijan dropped from 166th place to 168th.

“The hopes that arose at the end of 2019 after the dismissal of presidential adviser Ali Hasanov, who was considered the “main censor” of the media, and allegations of major reforms, quickly collapsed in early 2020. A wave of persecution of journalists covering the election fraud and opposition rallies began then.

Major independent news sites are blocked. To silence exiled journalists, authorities harass members of their families remaining in Azerbaijan.

Moreover, authorities arrest Azerbaijani journalists in Georgia and Ukraine and sue journalists in France.

The country’s President has been waging a ruthless war against the remaining critics since 2014. Independent journalists and bloggers are sent to prison on absurd grounds if they do not succumb to blackmail or bribes,” the section of the report on Azerbaijan says.

In general, the situation worsened in the space of the entire former USSR, where almost all former republics were among the stranglers of the press.

The countries with the freest press are Norway, Finland and Denmark. Worst of all is the situation in Eritrea, Turkmenistan and North Korea.

With regard to global trends over the past year, there is a geopolitical crisis caused by the fact that leaders of dictatorial, authoritarian or populist regimes are working hard to impose their will, without pluralism or an independent press.

The lack of regulation in the era of digital and global communications has created informational chaos. Advocacy, advertising, rumors and journalism are in direct competition. The growing confusion between commercial, political, and editorial content has destabilized democratic guarantees of freedom of opinion and expression.

This contributes to the adoption of dangerous laws that, under the pretext of restricting fake news, increase repression against independent and critical journalism.

Cases of physical violence and pressure on an independent press have become more frequent. At the same time distrust of the media suspected of publishing false information has grown.

Finally, the spread of social networks has brought the media to its knees in many countries. The decline in sales, the decline in advertising revenue and the rise in production costs led to the dismissal of a huge number of journalists and the closure of newspapers, the report said.

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