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Journalists harassed, prevented from covering home demolition story

(IRFS/IFEX) - The Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) condemns the police pressure used against journalists and their unfounded interference with journalists' professional work on 3 July 2009.

Radio Liberty and BBC correspondents and other media representatives who wanted to prepare a report about the demolition of houses situated in an area where a palace is being built for the president faced pressure from police and were kept at a distance from the site. The police did not let IRFS employees enter the area and tried to impede their work in taking photographs or filming.

Some of the local residents objected to the demolition of the houses on Khan Shushinski Street where the presidential palace is being built. The Narimanov District executive administration deputy chief, Shahmar Ibadov, told the journalists that houses that do not have proper documentation will be pulled down and the owners will be given apartments in return. "Houses with documentation in place will not be torn down, and negotiation with their owners is underway," Ibadov said.

IRFS states that not allowing the journalists to do their work violates Article 50 of Azerbaijan's Constitution (freedom of expression), Article 10 of the European Convention (freedom of expression) and Article 163 of Azerbaijan's Criminal Code (interference in the professional work of journalists).

IRFS calls on Azerbaijan's government to respect the law and create conditions for journalists to be able to fulfill their professional duties.

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