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IFEX members outraged by death of prominent journalist in hospital

IRFS

IFEX members are demanding answers from the Azerbaijani government after outspoken journalist and writer Rafiq Tagi died in hospital on 23 November following a stabbing attack. The International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan (IPGA) issued a joint statement condemning his murder and calling for an end to the impunity that threatens Azerbaijani journalists.

According to the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS), Rafiq Tagi, editor in chief of the newspaper "Senet" and a vocal critic of the authorities, was stabbed multiple times outside his home in Baku by an unknown assailant on 19 November. While Tagi initially showed some signs of recovery in hospital and even held press interviews, he was "apparently left on his own in the hospital without appropriate medical or security supervision," IRFS reports.

While in hospital, Tagi told journalists he suspected the attacker "who was very nervous and did not say a word" was motivated by pro-Iranian forces. Tagi had recently written an opinion piece for a local website that charged Iran with discrediting the religion of Islam and poked fun at threats Iran had made against Azerbaijan, according to the International Press Institute (IPI).

Following Tagi's death on the International Day to End Impunity, IRFS condemned the "Azerbaijani government's indifference to journalism and freedom of the press that contributed to the death."

Noting that "Azerbaijani authorities have a poor record of investigating attacks against journalists," IPGA issued a statement signed by 10 human rights organisations calling for a thorough investigation into Tagi's death. Among the signatories are IFEX members ARTICLE 19, Human Rights Watch, Index on Censorship, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), PEN International and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said the government's failure to hold anyone responsible for the murder of publisher Elmar Huseynov in 2005 sets "a bad precedent" for justice in Tagi's case.

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