The Global Network Initiative (GNI) welcomes its newest member, the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) based in Baku, Azerbaijan. IRFS is an Azerbaijani civil society organization dedicated to protecting the rights of journalists and media personnel in Azerbaijan, and to promoting freedom of expression and the rule of law.

“We’re delighted to welcome GNI’s first member from the Caucasus region,” said GNI Executive Director Susan Morgan. “The addition of a press freedom NGO with in-depth expertise on the challenging situation in Azerbaijan comes at a particularly timely moment, as the international Internet governance and policy community gathers in Baku, Azerbaijan, for the Internet Governance Forum.”

“We are very proud to become part of the GNI community,” said IRFS Executive Director Emin Huseynov. “Membership in this groundbreaking coalition will help propel IRFS towards its objectives to promote Internet freedom and create a more open and participatory Internet in the region.”

IRFS was founded by a group of independent journalists and media experts in May 2006, in response to growing government restrictions on fundamental freedoms. IRFS monitors and reports on violations of freedom of expression in Azerbaijan, produces analyses, appeals, and daily news reports, raising awareness of journalists’ rights locally and internationally.

Rob Mahoney, Deputy Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists and GNI Board member said: “We welcome the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom Safety as a GNI member at this critical time for freedom of expression in Azerbaijan where censorship and intimidation of independent journalists are rampant. IRFS is on the frontline of the battle for media freedoms in country which has a history of imprisoning critical journalists on fabricated charges and restricting the free flow of information to its citizens.”