Website fined for not removing comments on social media page

On February 3, the local court fined Azermedia, the founder of the online news platform yeniavaz.az in the total amount of 1500AZN (approximately 880USD). The prosecutor cited the failure of the website management to remove comments posted on the website’s Facebook page according to Azerbaijan service for Radio Liberty. 

In court, the prosecutor’s office representative said the website management carried the responsibility to remove comments on its social media accounts that are slanderous and insulting. But the lawyer, Nemat Karimli repeated that Azermedia did not violate any rules and that claims by the prosecutor’s office about responsibility to remove comments on social media platforms were baseless. 

Following the court’s decision, Karimli said they will be appealing the decision. 

The court decision follows the weeks-long process between the prosecutor’s office and the yeniavaz.az and concerns a series of articles the website published starting January 12. The published articles cover the case of political activist Tofig Yagublu who was detained during a rally in December, beaten, and then let go. The investigation concluded that Yagublu beat himself and that the police had no involvement in the physical injuries caused to the activist.   

The website was fined based on Article 388.1.1.2 of the Code of Administrative Offenses

for failure to take measures established by the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan “On information, informatization and protection of information” in connection with the seizure of information prohibited for dissemination placed on the Internet information resources –

individuals shall be fined in the amount of 500 to 1000 manats, officials in the amount of 1000 to 1000 manats, or administrative detention for a period of up to one month shall be imposed on legal entities, depending on the circumstances of the case, legal entities shall be fined in the amount of 1500 to 2000 manats. is done.

resident of Mingachevir city beaten by the police over social media posts

January 29, 2021 – Resident of Mingachevir city, Sardar Asgarov was taken to local police, beaten, and forced to apologize over his criticism of the local government officials on social media. 

In an interview with Meydan TV, a Berlin-based online news platform, covering Azerbaijan, Asgarov said, a man showed up at his door on January 26 in the morning telling him, he was coming from the Mingachevir Employment Center. Once Sadigov stepped outside of his door, three other men showed up and attacked Sadigov. 

According to Sadigov he was then taken to the local police where the city’s deputy chief, Javid Talibov slapped him, used derogatory language and told him who was he to criticize local administration, and the head of the police on social media. “He then forced me to kneel, and to apologize while Talibov was filming me with his phone,” Sadigov told Meydan TV. 

The same day, Sadigov was fined and let go. 

Sadigov said both his mobile phones that were taken by the police were formated and his accounts on social media platforms were deleted. “The deputy chief told me if I criticize local authorities again, he will find a way to arrest me.”

In the meantime, Mingachevir City Police told Meydan TV, Sadigov was detained for hooliganism and fined for 50AZN and that Sadigov’s claims about violence and threats he was subject to at the police are not true. Similarly, the city administrative office refuted Sadigov’s claims that he was detained on the orders of the office. The office also said they consider Sadigov’s comments on social media as slander. 

Sadigov’s posts on social media criticized one of the city government departments for withholding salaries of women employees, and not helping them during the pandemic. Sadigov also criticized the city police for preventing these women from protesting.