WILMAP: Azerbaijan


LEGISLATION

The Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, August 12, 1995 
 
[Providing to the citizens freedom of expression (art 47), freedom of information (art 50) and right for confidentiality (art 32)]
 
Amendments to the Criminal Code (criminalizing “defamatory and offensive views” posted on the Internet), May 14, 2013,
 
[Prior to this amendment, only defamation on mass media produced liability. Internet was not mentioned. According to the amendments: (1) Spreading libel on the Internet is subject to a fine of 100-500 AZN, unpaid public works for up to 240 hours, or corrective labor for up to one year or imprisonment for a maximum of 6 months (art 147). (2) Deliberate humiliation of honor and dignity of a person (insult) in an indecent way on the Internet is subject to a fine of 300-1000 AZN, and unpaid public works for up to 240 hours, or corrective labor for up to one year or imprisonment for a maximum of 6 months (art 148)].
 
Law No. 1024 IIQ, The Law of The Republic of Azerbaijan to obtain information, December 9, 2005
 
[Article 29 of this Law provides a list of information to be disclosed by information owners. In addition to the available tools, the government agencies must disclose the information specified in that list via the Internet as well. And the Article 32 of the law puts forward the obligation to create Internet information resources.]
 
Law No. 927 IIG, Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Telecommunications, 14 June 2005
 
[This law covers the main principles applying to telecommunication activities and provides for the protection of operators, providers and users (art 3). Among those principles, the law mentions that (1) “rules of registration, use of contry code domain names are regulated jointly by corresponding executive power body and respective bodies according to international norms” (art 7.10); (2) persons committing acts of unfair competition, violation of users’ interests and rights, or any illegal acts bear responsibility according to legislation (art 11.4); (3) Operators and service providers have the following duties: (i) to operate in field of telecommunication according to normative legal acts; (ii) to fulfill its duties arisen from contract signed with subscriber; (iii) not to violate consumer rights; (iv) to sign interconnection contracts; (v) to provide telecommunication services meeting quality standards, norms and rules set by the law; (vi) to obey directing the traffic according to their duties set by legislation (art 33); (4) Operators and providers must assure confidentiality of information transmitted via their networks; limitations on confidentiality of information transmitted via telecommunication networks are admitted in cases set by legislation only; disclosure of phone calls and information transmitted via other telecommunication means is admitted in cases set by legislation only (art 38); (5) operators and providers must promote in proper legal manner the implementation of search actions, supply telecommunication networks with extra technical devices according to terms set by corresponding executive bodies for this goal, solve organizational issues and keep methods used in implementation of these actions as secret. Operators and providers bear responsibility for violation of these requirements in proper legal manner (art 39)].
 
Law N. 404-IIKG,  The Constitutional Law on Regulation of the Implementation of Human Rights and Freedoms, December 24, 2002
 
[Stating that freedom of expression and information can be restricted only subject to Article 3.1 of the Constitutional Law which says: Provided by the Constitution of the Azerbaijani Republic and the international treaties which participant is the Azerbaijani Republic, human rights and freedoms can be limited only to the law].
 
Law No. 598,  Rules for Using Internet Communication, February 24, 2000
 
[Article 4 governs the “Rights and responsibilities of Internet service providers” and regulates the relations between ISPs and Internet users. (1) Internet Providers shall provide the following: (a) Internet service and qualitative work without interruption; (b) subscribers should be informed on a regular basis about the reception time of Subscribers by Internet service providers , Internet access, Internet use, service delivery guidelines , updates of the services and other types of services; (c) Clearly delivery of the terms of “Internet connection rules” and the relevant prices of "tariff for Internet services” preyskurats to the subscribers at the place of reception of citizens. (g) To remove all the dissatisfactions belonging to providers within 1 day at the request of consumers; (d) To set up their activities based on the special permit (license) of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies. (2) Internet service providers may suspend the provision of Internet service without the consent of the subscribers in the following cases: (a) in the case of activities contrary to the rules established by the legislation of the Azerbaijan Republic and the Law on Telecommunications, [ . . . ] (3) To ensure the exchange of domestic Internet, Internet Providers shall connect to the National İnternet Network on the basis of directives and regulations of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. [ . . . ].]
 
Law No. 769-IQ, The Law on Mass Media, December 7, 1999 
 
[Providing that: (1) Internet contents is regulated by the general rules regulating the content of all mass media (art 3); there are no special laws (neither legislation, nor regulatory acts, nor any court decisions) regulating access to the internet and sanctioning the blocking of websites. Nevertheless, there have been cases of blocking online content in Azerbaijan; (2) Access to the Internet can be defined as the right to access information or documents disseminated via the internet; (3) production and propagation of mass media can be temporarily suspended or terminated only by a decision of the founder or court (art 19); (4) In case of transmission in the mass media of information humiliating honor and dignity of physical and legal persons of slanderous and offensive nature, distorting of thoughts, [the offended party has] the right within one months to require an answer to be given in the mass media, the disproof of the information, and the publication of a correction [ . . . ] (art 44); (5) Editors and journalist will bear civil, administrative, and criminal responsibility pursuant to the legislation of the Azerbaijan Republic (i) for publication of information, whose announcement is forbidden by the law, (ii) in case of absence by the editor-in-chief (editors) of control of the conformity of the materials, published in print publications, to the requests of the present Law, (iii) for the dissemination of information without the indication of its source, (iv) for the publication of information encroaching on the personal life of citizens, (v) for the publication or transmission of pornographic materials (art 60).]
 
[According to the Article 151 of the Constitution, international agreements binding upon Azerbaijan prevail over domestic legislation, with the exception of the Constitution itself and acts accepted by way of referendum. Thus, in the case of a conflict between the provisions of the implemented international norms and the provisions of any domestic laws pertaining to Internet governance, the former shall prevail.]
 
The United Nations Human Rights Council, Resolution, July 5th, 2012
[Affirming that (1) the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular freedom of expression, which is applicable regardless of frontiers and through any media of one's choice, in accordance with articles 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; [and] recognizing (2) the global and open nature of the Internet as a driving force in accelerating progress towards development in its various forms]. 
 
United Nations Human Rights Committee, Treaty-monitoring Body for the ICCPR, General Comment No. 34, July 2011
[Provides that “Paragraph 2 (freedom of opinion and expression) protects all forms of expression and the means of their dissemination. Such forms include spoken, written and sign language and such non-verbal expression as images and objects of art.23 (art 12). Means of expression include books, newspapers, pamphlets, posters, banners, dress and legal submissions. They include all forms of audio-visual as well as electronic and internet-based modes of expression”].
 
OSCE Permanent Council Decision No. 633, Promoting tolerance and freedom on the internet, 2004
[Deciding that “Participating States should take action to ensure that the Internet remains an open and public forum for freedom of opinion and expression, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and to foster access to the Internet both in homes and in schools”].
 
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) 1966, ratified in  1992 
 
European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) 1950, ratified in 2002

BILLS AND PENDING PROPOSAL

[There are currently no known new legislative proposals on the issue of intermediary liability.]

DECISIONS

Regional Court of Astara , Mikayil Talobov prosecution, 14 August, 2013
[defamation, freedom of expression, Facebook]
 
[After the amendment to the Criminal Code on Internet defamation on June 30, 2013, the the first person tried under the defamation act was Mikayil Talibov.  On August 14, 2013 he was sentenced to a one-year public labor for his “libelous” Facebook posts. Additionally, 20 per cent of his monthly income was to be retained by the State for a period of one year. Talibov was found guilty under Article 147.1of the Criminal Code (Slander) over the “libelous” comments on the “Accessbank- Haqsizbank” (Accessbank-Unjust Bank) Facebook page, which he had created to criticize the activities of the bank. However, the Appelate Court of Shirvan cancelled this decision on November 22, 2013 and the case is still ongoing.]
 
District Court of Nizami , F. Novruzoglu Prosecution, 22 August, 2012
[defamation, freedom of expression, Facebook]
 
[Mr. Novruzoglu was  accused of posting calls for riots on Facebook ahead of the 11 March 11, 2011 Great People’s Day protest. He  was sentenced, and served 4 years and 6 months in jail, according to Article 220.2 of the Criminal Coded (calls for mass riots, and violence against the citizens).]

CONTRIBUTORS

Faig Alizada
Email: faig.alizada at gmail.com

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