December 2016 Update: Officials in Azerbaijan illegalized online defamation of the president. Offenders can be fined, plus catch a 3-year prison sentence. Source.
May 2013 Update: In May 2013, the Azerbaijan government overwhelmingly voted to make online slander and “abuse” a criminal offense. As reported in the AFP, ruling party lawmaker Ali Guseinli believes that “amending the criminal law will facilitate the more effective suppression of the distribution of any crimes related to slander and abuse on widely-used Internet resources.”
Azerbaijan is on a long list of countries in the process of changing their national libel and slander laws to keep in step with growing global standards of defamation statutes that include increased media protections.
Article 147: Crime of Defamation
If found guilty of defamation in Azerbaijan, an individual may be fined up to “500 times the amount of minimum wage, public work for up to 240 hours, correctional work for up to one year, or imprisonment of up to six months. One can also be sentenced to up to three years of prison if the victim is falsely accused of having committed a crime “of grave or very grave nature”
Article 148: Crime of Insult
The crime of insult can lead to a fine of up to 1000 times the minimum wage.
As of March 30, 2012, the “National Action Programme,” endorsed by President Ilham Aliyev, will prepare improvement proposals for the country’s criminal defamation laws.
Few, though, have hopes that defamation reforms will have a substantial affect because of what MP Bakhtiyar Sadikhov called, “racket-journalism,” run by people looking out for their “own interests [will] hamper the adoption of this law.”
Plus, despite public statements to the contrary, the government doesn’t seem keen to make changes, either.