ECHR finds Azerbaijan committed human rights violations by blocking news websites News
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ECHR finds Azerbaijan committed human rights violations by blocking news websites

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled on Thursday that Azerbaijan violated speech protections under the European Convention on Human Rights when it blocked the websites several news outlets in 2017 – 2018.

The case concerns Azerbaijan’s complete blocking of the websites,, and in 2017-2018. National courts decided to block access to these websites, citing that the articles published on them contained false information or unacceptable content under Azerbaijani media legislation. Further government actions also included a ban on distributing content through VPN services and social media platforms.

As reported by local media, the blocked websites are considered independent and may be affiliated with opposition parties that are critical of the Azerbaijani government. The applicants, owners, and administrators of the blocked websites contend that the decision to block them ultimately was excessive and violated freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial, and an effective remedy specified in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Hearing the case, the European Court of Human Rights unanimously concluded that Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the Convention had been violated. The court did not consider it necessary to consider the admissibility and merits of complaints under other articles of the Convention referred to in the claims. Azerbaijan was instructed to pay the applicants compensation within three months.

Media activity in Azerbaijan is restricted, provoking cases of violence, harassment, and arbitrary arrests, according to Amnesty International’s April report. Following the adoption of a new restrictive media law in 2022, which requires media outlets to register with the authorities, independent media outlets that refused to register were closed. Government critics, journalists, and human rights defenders have also faced an increase in politically motivated detentions. Several activists have been detained on charges of religious extremism, counterfeiting, and posting ‘harmful information’ on social media. The detainees include prominent opposition politicians, journalists, and activists.