Newsfeed

Matthew Bryza suggests excluding OSCE Minsk Group from Karabakh peace process

MP: Prosperous Armenia feels free to demand government dissolution, if necessary

"Heritage": further strategy of non-government three to be determined at the beginning of February

Uruguayan President: Let's not forget about unrecognized Armenian Genocide

Nikolay Bordyuzha: CSTO cannot give military response to escalation of tension along contact line of Azerbaijani-Armenian troops

Expert: Israel's policy on Armenian Genocide will not change

Armenian policeman accused of robbing houses of Iranians living in Yerevan

Analyst: It is the military-political balance rather than the Russian base that defends Armenia against Turkey

Government of Armenia says they have fulfilled all the demands of salespersons, but they continue to rally

Armenian expert: The key reason why the Armenian authorities are behaving like ostriches is that their boss is going to leave them

Parliamentary opposition suggests convoking special parliamentary session on turnover tax law

Prime Minister: Armenia is preparing to resist global economic war

VimpelCom Ltd., announces the launch of its "Make Your Mark" initiative

Fatih Akin's "The Cut" to be screened in Armenia and Russia starting from Feb 19

Expert: Turkey will try to make up a format for its participation in events to be organized by Armenia to commemorate 100th year of Armenian Genocide

Political expert: 2015 will see no breakthrough in Nagorno-Karabakh peace process

Armenian expert: Permyakov case will be used as pretext for planned withdrawal of 102nd Russian military base from Armenia

Expert: Growing tension in the Karabakh conflict zone bears no relation to upcoming centennial of the Armenian Genocide

France-Artsakh Friendship Circle supports OSCE Minsk Group's charges against Azerbaijan

James Warlick: "The reported use of 'drones' above or across the Nagorno-#Karabakh line of contact is a provocation"

One more concert on sidelines of Edgar Oganesyan-Fest in Yerevan

Criminal case opened over death of soldier in Yerevan

President of Turkey calls for opening archives and submitting Genocide issue to historians

The Pan-Armenian Declaration On The 100th Anniversary Of The Armenian Genocide Promulgated

New appointments at VTB Bank (Armenia)

Armenian President: Denial of Armenian Genocide turns present-day Turkish authorities into accomplices to the crime committed by Young Turks

President Serzh Sargsyan attends opening of Komitas Museum-Institute

Spokesman of Armenian DM: I will not be surprised if tomorrow Azerbaijan destroys an Armenian intercontinental ballistic missile

Action of protest held in front of OSCE Office in Yerevan

Tension on Line of Contact is unlikely to develop into large-scale military operations, Azeri expert says

Well-known actor Vardan Petrosyan sentenced to 5 years in jail

Armenian Defense Ministry: Two Armenian servicemen wounded as a result of Azeri sabotage attack

Small business representatives heading towards president's residence protesting against Law on Turnover Tax

Azeri raiders convicted in Artsakh apply to Court of Appeal

Gevork Kostanyan: Armenian people had to protect their own history against distortion at ECHR

Haaretz: President of Israel touches upon Armenian Genocide

Francois Hollande calls on Turkey to dispel stereotypes and recognize Genocide of Armenians

Armenian armed forces rebuff a new Azeri sabotage attack on the border in Tavush region

Armenian delegation to PACE voices issue of Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey

Small HPPs constructed on rivers to get green passports

Verdict on "Perincek vs. Switzerland" case will be announced within 6-8 months

Official Stepanakert thinks extradition of Dilham Askerov may not be debated

OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs voice their concern over growing tensions in Karabakh conflict zone

Eduard Sharmazanov: "OSCE MG's latest statement was unprecedented, as the mediators took Baku down a peg for the first time ever "

President of Armenia: "Artsakh's right to live in freedom is undisputable"

Artsvik Minasyan: Any integration is senseless for unreformed economy of Armenia

Armenia's Energy Ministry plans to sell part of Nairit Plant's assets

Armenian Defense Minister: Transfer of Valery Permyakov to Armenian law-enforcers was not discussed at the meeting with Arkady Bakhin

Expert: Armenian law-enforcers are not involved in Permyakov case investigation to full extent

British Film Festival 13th Love Edition to kick off in Yerevan on Feb 14

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