Freedom House: Azerbaijan is partly free country
The human rights organization Freedom House released its annual report on the state of freedom of the Internet in the world.
Trend towards limiting the global Internet freedom has been observed for the 4th year in a row. This was reflected in the adoption of new laws, criminal liability for online dissent, tightening state control over the Internet, the increasing number of those arrested for online activities.
The situation is particularly problematic in less democratic countries where citizens have no opportunity to challenge or appeal against the actions of the government.
The most serious deterioration in the Internet over the past year was observed in Russia, Turkey and Ukraine. In the US, there has been a National Security Agency surveillance of citizens.
The worst situation with the freedom of the Internet is in Iran, Syria and China. In a few countries reported a sustained improvement in the situation noted in the summary report.
The section on Azerbaijan, noted that the country has been and remains partly free in access to the Internet. Over the past year there has been some improvement in the infrastructure of the Internet, outlined plans for the introduction of broadband Internet across the country. At the same time, the overall quality of the Internet remains low, especially outside the capital.
In addition, the state security agencies monitor Internet service providers when they want to. The Ministry of Communications continues to maintain a monopoly over access to the Internet.
By the end of 2013 in Azerbaijan, Internet access was at the level of 58.7% (54.2% in 2012).
Internet access in rural areas remains difficult, and the communication quality is below average. In September 2013, the government announced an ambitious plan worth US $ 131 million. To build the infrastructure of broadband Internet throughout the country by 2017. However, the initiative has reached an impasse.
According to the Azerbaijan Internet Forum, Internet access remains an expensive commodity for many Azerbaijanis, especially in comparison with neighboring countries. Bureaucracy led to delays in the implementation of the network 4G LTE.
On the eve of the presidential elections, Internet cafes were closed by the authorities in Nakhchivan.
Cafe owners said that the Ministry of Communications is trying to prevent online dissent before the elections.
As of May 2014, the Press Council has not submitted any reports on the state of the Internet and did not raise any concerns about the state of press freedom in Azerbaijan.
At the same time, the Fund for Media Development under the President of the country approves of the free situation in the online media.
The government uses methods of control through intimidation and arrest of users. In addition, the lock is applied some sites critical of the government (Susmayaq.biz, and others).
At the same time, on the pro-government resources are being advocated against social networking as a bad habit that affects the psyche.
In addition, independent or opposition media face additional pressure from the authorities in the form of fines and lawsuits.
Opposition newspaper Azadlig was fined and harassment by the authorities. Over the past few years, 44 times and pressure on the media increases.
At the same time, fixed lawsuits against users who have published critical materials.
The country has more than 150,000 bloggers, including about 1,000 blogs in English, Russian or other languages.
Many bloggers, such as Ali Novruzov, Emin Milli, Emil Bagirov, Etibar Salmanly, Arzu Geybullayeva, Zaur Gurbanli, well known for their independent views, and from 50,000 to 70,000 users read them online.
In Azerbaijan, more than 10 Internet radio stations and TV channels, more than 40 news sites, more than 100 000 people are watching online TV.
The number of registered Facebook users increased from 700,000 in December 2011 to more than 1,000,000 in 2013
The Azerbaijani government continues to arrest and prosecute online users, especially young activists and journalists who criticize the government.
Against this background, the government arrested and convicted many bloggers on charges of disorderly conduct or other false charges. The report lists all the bloggers and online activists condemned the authorities for the past two years.
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