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Freedom House Condemns Attack on American Journalist and British Activist in Azerbaijan
June 16, 2011
Freedom House is outraged by the brutal attack today on an American journalist and a British rights activist in Azerbaijan and calls on the authorities to publicly condemn the assault and to launch an immediate investigation into the crime.
Freelance journalist Amanda Erickson and human rights activist Celia Davies, who works for the Baku-based Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS), were beaten while on their way home late Wednesday night, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Azeri service. The two, who are based in Baku, reportedly work with local NGOs to conduct trainings for journalists and civil society activists. The assailants said nothing and took nothing during the assault, which left both women hospitalized.
“Not only are these attacks appalling, but they underscore the perilous situation faced by journalists and human rights defenders, both foreign and domestic, despite assertions by the Azerbaijani government to the contrary,” said Paula Schriefer, director of advocacy at Freedom House. “Freedom House calls upon authorities to conduct an immediate investigation into this heinous crime and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Emin Huseynov, IRFS director, linked the attack to their work in Baku and told the Committee to Protect Journalists that the attack was a “forewarning message to independent reporters and rights activists.” Attacks on journalists are not uncommon in Azerbaijan and most assailants are never brought to justice, resulting in high levels of self-censorship and a climate of fear within the media profession.
“Attacks on journalists—and particularly the impunity with which the perpetrators commit crimes against journalists in many countries—effectively serve as attacks on society as a whole as they send an unmistakable message that checks on power will not be tolerated,” said Courtney C. Radsch, Freedom House’s Freedom of Expression officer.
For more information on the cycle of violence against journalists and impunity for their attackers in Azerbaijan, see the joint report Free Expression Under Attack: Azerbaijan’s Deteriorating Media Environment by the International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan, a coalition of 20 international NGOs working to promote and protect freedom of expression in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan is ranked Not Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House’s annual global assessment of political rights and civil liberties and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2011.
For more information on Azerbaijan, visit:
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights
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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.