UNESCO welcomes Azerbaijan’s decision to free investigative reporter


UNESCO welcomes Azerbaijan’s decision to free investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova

Courthouse in Azerbaijan. Photo: World Bank/Allison Kwesell

25 May 2016 – The head of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has welcomed Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court decision to free an award-winning investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova.

“Some three weeks after UNESCO awarded [Ms. Ismayilova] the prestigious UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, I welcome her release from prison as a major step for freedom of expression, due process and the rule of law in Azerbaijan,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova in a press release.

“UNESCO’s commitment to stand by journalists around world is unwavering,” Ms. Bokova added.

Ms. Ismayilova, a freelance journalist and contributor to the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free Europe, was detained in December 2014. In September 2015, she was sentenced to seven and a half years’ imprisonment on charges relating to abuse of power and tax evasion.

“Our mandate to enhance the safety of journalists and fight impunity for crimes against them, to defend freedom of expression and media freedoms has never been so important. This requires the commitment of all actors and every Government,” Ms. Bokova said.