Azerbaijan: Investigation into journalist’s killing must be impartial, independent and effective

10 August 2015, 18:39 UTC

A promise today from Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev to “personally oversee” the investigation into the beating to death of journalist Rasim Aliyev [no relation to the President] is unlikely to result in real justice, Amnesty International said.

“For too long, Azerbaijan’s journalists have been subjected to persecution and horrific attacks such as this one. Their killings frequently go without the culprits being prosecuted and brought to justice, despite the cynical assurances of impartial investigations,” said Natalia Nozadze, Azerbaijan Researcher at Amnesty International.

In 2005 the president also promised to “personally oversee” the investigation into the killing of journalist Elmar Huseynov, but the case remains unsolved. 

“President Aliyev’s government must ensure a truly thorough, independent and impartial investigation is immediately undertaken into the death of Rasim Aliyev. Freedom of expression in Azerbaijan is already on life support. The authorities need to act now and effectively protect journalists at risk if that freedom is not to become extinct,” said Natalia Nozadze.

Rasim Aliyev died in a Baku hospital on Sunday, a day after being severely beaten by six men in broad daylight. Before the attack, Aliyev had criticized the behaviour of an Azerbaijani football player at a match in Cyprus in a post on Facebook.

Afterwards a man identifying himself as the player’s cousin rang him to complain about the post and then, in a subsequent call apologized, suggesting they meet up to talk. lt was when he went to that meeting that Aliyev was attacked getting out of his car.

In 2013, Rasim Aliyev was subjected to police ill-treatment on several occasions, including being punched in the face by a police officer while covering an opposition protest, despite wearing a press identification jacket.

Rasim Aliyev was a freelance reporter who previously worked for the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS), a leading media monitoring group in Azerbaijan. In 2013, IRFS was raided and forced to shut down following the freezing of its bank accounts and persecution of its founder and director Emin Huseynov.