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Azerbaijan2 July 2007

President Aliev says police will not be punished for beating up journalists

Reporters Without Borders condemns comments made today by President Ilham Aliev in which he told a group of police academy graduates that he “banned sanctions” against policemen responsible for violence against journalists covering the November 2005 legislative elections. “I will always support the police,” he said.

“By saying this, the president has come out in support of complete impunity,” the press freedom organisation said. “Instead of urging the police to behave better towards the press, he is encouraging them to do the same all over again.”

Policemen beat a total of 14 journalists during a demonstration by the opposition alliance Azadlig on 9 October 2005. Two of them, Ramiz Nadjafli, the editor of the weekly Boz Gurd, and Idrak Abbasov, a correspondent of the daily Ayna-Zerkalo, had to be rushed to hospital.

No fewer that 12 journalists working for different media, including BBC cameraman Shaida Tulagayeva and Samir Neymanoglu of the independent news agency Turan, were again roughed up the security forces on 29 November 2005, as Reporters Without Borders was urging the president “to take all the necessary measures to ensure the safety of journalists.”

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