Newsfeed

Eduard Sharmazanov: Ter-Petrosyan's stories were the most juicy part of the Friday opposition rally

Russian Ambassador: Armenia's accession to Eurasian Economic Union was a wise strategic decision

Armenian Foreign Minster says Baku seeks to fail the Karabakh negotiations with its efforts to change their format

Exposition of "Open Game" Championship of Computer and Mobile Games to take place on the 26th of October

French parliamentarian Valerie Boyer introduces new bill criminalizing genocide denial

Beeline and Cafesjian Center for the Arts launch two free of charge education programs

In Jan-Sept 2014 Areximbank-Gazprombank Group registered 63% growth in foreign exchange transfers through SWIFT

Levon Ter-Petrosyan: In Eurasian Economic Union Armenia will not be less sovereign than Russia, Kazakhstan or Belarus

Gagik Tsarukyan says his Party may demand power change

Levon Ter-Petrosyan: Armenia is experiencing a strong wave that seeks change of power and has all chances to succeed

Opposition four parties marching along Yerevan streets

Raffi Hovannisian: There will be a legal revolution in Armenia

Aram Manukyan: Armenian people seeks to govern the country

Expert: Only Azerbaijan gains from Serzh Sargsyan's policy

Vartan Oskanian: The system can be broken only through a power change

NASDAQ OMX Armenia provides ArmSwissBank with a status of market maker of National Mortgage Company's bonds

Chief of Russia's Federal Customs Service: Russia is not going to interfere in customs activities on Armenian-Nagorno-Karabakh border

Sharmazanov: Nobody, even if he wants very much, can name at least one fact which is evidence of incapability of the Armenian authorities

Oppositionist: Opposition's task during its rallies is to make best of people's resolution to change ruling regime

A member of the parliament from ARFD wishes success to the opposition three

RPA member: The opposition three is unpredictable

VivaCell-MTS has invested 55 million AMD for the housing project in the borderland villages of Armenia and Fuller Center for Housing Armenia has undertaken the implementation of the project

Head of Russian Federal Customs Service: Russia does not intend to interfere in customs officers' activities on border between Armenia and Karabakh

Serzh Sargsyan's message to Washington: We believe that the whole of mankind should be consistent in the recognition, condemnation and exclusion of denialism of genocides

CJSC Armenian Copper Programme reduces blister copper production 9,8% for nine months of 2014

Ex-governor of Vayots Dzor, Edgar Ghazaryan - an ambassador to Poland

Sargsyan-Aliyev-Hollande meeting to take place on 27 October

Serzh Sargsyan: Germany is Armenia's vital partner and a friendly country

Edward Sharmazanov: The breakthrough in the Karabakh process depends on the position of Baku

OSCE MG Co-chairs share expectations from upcoming meeting of Azerbaijani and Armenian Presidents in Paris

Former premier of Armenia calls on the government to change methodology of GDP calculation

Parliament member: A draft law has been submitted to the parliament that has nothing in common with residents of the bordering communities

Expert: Deposits with radioactive elements in a scattered state are being developed in Armenia

Parliamentarian: On 2 Jan 2015, Armenia will find itself in quite new economic environment, something that Government is absolutely not ready for

Governor of Armenia's Vayots Dzor Region relieved of his duties upon his own request

Environmentalists to protest against shooting of wolves

Armenian MP: Armenia has crossed the red line of economic security

"Grozniy-Avia" airline to launch Simferopol-Yerevan flight

Beeline launches "Unlimited Internet Super" service

ACBA-CREDIT AGRICOLE BANK opens new branch in Yerevan

Tigran Khzmalyan: Armenia has linked its Noah's Arc to Russia's sinking Titanik that is still selling tickets

Irina Kamkhadze: We see no downward tendency of Visa growth rates in Armenian market

VTB Bank (Armenia) Visa cardholder becomes winner of Summer with VTB campaign and gets a vacation package to Malta for two persons

Delegation of IFC and EBRD visits Amulsar Gold Project site

Oppositionist: The case with ASALA veteran demonstrates state terrorism in Armenia

Armenia's Health Care Ministry organizes a training course to assess local doctors' readiness for Ebola

Naira Zohrabyan: There is no sector in Armenia where human rights are not breached

Speaker of the Armenian parliament agrees to the idea that there are numerous unsettled conceptual problems in the republic

Gabor Brodi: Armenia must not choose between European Union and its neighbors in the region

A delegation of South Caucasus Railway to attend 61st meeting of CIS Rail Transport Council in Baku

Human Rights Watch: CoE's leaders and members of its Parliamentary Assembly should urge Azerbaijani President to end his country's growing persecution of government critics and independent groups

  • by Ashot Safaryan

  • Tuesday, June 24, 12:56

The Council of Europe's leaders and members of its Parliamentary Assembly should urge Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to end his country's growing persecution of government critics and independent groups. The Council of Europe is Europe's leading human rights body, according to the Human Rights Watch.   

As president of the country that currently holds the six-month rotating chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, Aliyev will address the Parliamentary Assembly on June 24, 2014.  "It's sheer irony that Azerbaijan presides over a body whose standards it so flagrantly violates," said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "The Council of Europe's leadership should not miss this opportunity to urge Aliyev to free people who are behind bars for nothing more than speaking their minds and to allow independent groups to operate."

In the past two years, Azerbaijani authorities have brought or threatened unfounded criminal charges against at least 40 political activists, journalists, bloggers, and human rights defenders, most of whom are behind bars. In its September 2013 report "Tightening the Screws: Azerbaijan's Crackdown on Civil Society and Dissent," and in dozens of follow-up interviews, Human Rights Watch documented the authorities' use of a range of criminal charges, including drug and weapons possession, incitement to violence, hooliganism, tax evasion, and even treason to silence its critics.

President Aliyev and his government repeatedly deny the existence of politically motivated prosecutions in Azerbaijan, but the circumstances of the criminal investigations and numerous violations in legal proceedings leave little doubt that the charges against these critics are bogus and intended to punish them for their independent activism and criticism of the authorities, Human Rights Watch said.  Several Council of Europe bodies have expressed concern about politically motivated prosecutions in Azerbaijan. On June 20 Mailis Reps, the Parliamentary Assembly's rapporteur on human rights defenders, expressed profound concern about "various intimidation measures being taken against human rights defenders, other civic activists, journalists and bloggers [in Azerbaijan] - such as arbitrary arrests, unfair trials on fabricated charges and even the use of torture in custody."

In May the European Court of Human Rights found that the government had arrested Ilgar Mammadov, one of the country's top opposition political activists, "to silence or punish [him] for criticizing the Government."

In a statement on Azerbaijan issued in April 2014, Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muiznieks concluded that "[u]njustified and selective criminal prosecution of people expressing dissenting views, including journalists, bloggers and activists, continues unabated. This is unacceptable. All those who are detained because of the views they expressed must be released."

In January 2013 the Parliamentary Assembly adopted a resolution on Azerbaijan that said, among other things, that "[t]he combination of the restrictive implementation of freedoms with unfair trials and the undue influence of the executive results in the systemic detention of people who may be considered prisoners of conscience."

"President Aliyev is likely to claim in Strasbourg that no one in Azerbaijan is in prison on politically motivated charges," Williamson said. "He should be asked to explain why some of the country's top political activists are behind bars, or why police arrest Facebook activists on drug charges but then question them exclusively about their activism."

Meanwhile, the government has imposed onerous reporting obligations for advocacy groups, establishing prohibitive fines for those that fail to comply and refusing to register certain groups it expects to be critical of the government. By refusing to register some human rights groups, the government is pushing them to the margins of the law, Human Rights Watch said, because they cannot legally finance their activities.

On May 26, in a recent example, a court in Baku found Anar Mammadli, head of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center guilty of illegal entrepreneurship for operating without registration and other charges, and sentenced him to five and a half years in prison.
"It's high time for Azerbaijan to show true leadership by fulfilling the obligations it undertook 13 years ago when it joined the Council of Europe," Williamson said. "Releasing Mammadov and Mammadli, together with dozens of other imprisoned activists, and allowing independent groups to operate unhindered, is the obvious place to start."

Send to a friend

To (e-mail)


Your name


Message


Comments

View comments (0)
  • READ ALL COMMENTS
  • POST A COMMENT

Be first to comment on this article

* Indicates required fields