Azerbaijani lawmakers have passed a legislation that makes insulting the country’s president, Ilham Aliyev, on social media illegal — violators of the new law could face jail time and a hefty fine.
While online criticism was already a crime, the new law includes special clauses regarding the president.
The legislation constitutes a heavy blow to Azerbaijanis wishing to voice frustration — social media has in recent years served as a key outlet for opposition, in a country whose traditional media is tightly controlled.
Penalties for abusing the law are two-tiered, with offenders using fake accounts facing a fine of 1,500 manats ($855) and up to three years in prison, and those using authentic accounts being dealt a smaller fine and a more lenient jail sentence.
According to the BBC’s South Caucasus correspondent, Rayhan Demytrie, Azerbaijani courts will have the final say as to what constitutes an insult. This has raised significant concern, as many human rights groups deem these courts not independent.
Source: BBC News