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By Index on Censorship / 15 May 2013
Index on Censorship and partner organizations have strongly condemned moves by Azerbaijan’s government on Tuesday to criminalise online slander and abuse in the run-up to the country’s October Presidential election.
The government claims the move will give it the ability to more effectively oversee the web, the AFP reported. The opposition argues the law will have a chilling effect on free expression and could be used to stifle dissent.
Index on Censorship has previously criticised attempts by governments to control the online activities of their citizens. In the latest development, Index has joined a coalition to strongly condemn a series of repressive legislative amendments that Azerbaijan’s National Assembly adopted Tuesday.
The existing penalties for criminal defamation and insult in the media have been extended to online content, including Azerbaijan’s social networks. The length of “administrative” detention – 15 days without referring to a court has increased to 90 days.
Index on Censorship has dedicated its milestone 250th issue to exploring the increasing threats to reporters worldwide. Its special report, Truth in Danger, Danger in Truth: Journalists Under Fire and Under Pressure, is out soon. Highlights include Lindsey Hilsum, writing about her friend and colleague, the murdered war reporter Marie Colvin, and asking whether journalists should still be covering war zones. Stephen Grey looks at the difficulties of protecting sources in an era of mass surveillance.