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Azerbaijan and free speech
by Kieren McCarthy | 4 Jun 2012 |
The 2012 IGF host country is no fan of dissent
The former Russian republic has a long history of silencing free speech. Credit: Human Rights Watch.
When Azerbaijan was announced as the host of the 2012 Internet Governance Forum (IGF) on the last day of the 2011 forum in Nairobi, it took a little less than an hour for civil society representatives to take the microphone and point out the country's poor human rights record.
That concern fed into the last preparatory meeting of the IGF in Geneva last month, with frequent questions and requests for more information over Azerbaijan's plans taking up several hours of planning discussions.
Such interventions are of course largely pointless and all too frequently slip into self-righteousness, but with freedom of expression one of the more abiding traits of an open and global communications medium, it is a question that any IGF host can be expected to face, and be expected to answer.