Rostelecom to hold events enhancing computer literacy in Armenia

Ameriabank signs 25 mln USD syndicated loan agreement with FMO and OeEB for financing of SME and renewable energy

Ucom subscribers can pay for services at VTB Bank (Armenia) round the clock

Baku criticizes Russia24 channel

Prosecutor General's Office institutes a criminal case based on files submitted by Levon Zurabyan

Beeline Armenia CEO presented "Success Path" lecture for Leaders' Club members

National Philharmonic Orchestra has marked closing of concert season 2015, emphasizing role of VivaCell-MTS in implementation of initiatives of orchestra

Court upholds motion of Armenia's National Security Service to arrest Arthur Vardanyan

All countries of CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, except Azerbaijan, condemn downing of Russian plane by Turkey

National Security Service of Armenia: Detained citizens start giving evidence

Naryshkin to Ankara: Crimes of the past should be condemned properly

Raffi Hovannisian's political passivity reason is two weddings and several funerals

Expert: Promises of paradise in Armenia "roam" from one constitutional referendum to another

Yerevan: Selective approach to principles and elements in Karabakh peace process will make settlement impossible

Illegitimate regime that seized power in Armenia must leave: Raffi Hovannisian

New Armenia Front: Zhirayr Sefilyan's wife attacked

Zhirayr Sefilyan: KGB-style government in the country remained in the past

INECOBANK launches "InecoQuest" adventure contest under "Open the cashbox full of millions" motto

Geoteam CJSC invested 240 thousand USD in its social projects in 2015

VivaCell-MTS: From now on "Personal", "City Talks" and "Special" tariff plans are also available to non-residents living in Armenia

German Ambassador: Terror attacks in Paris were aimed not only against France but all Europe and pan- European values

Armenian National Congress: Information that one of criminal group's detainees is connected with opponents of Constitutional reforms is dirty propaganda

Call Center of VTB Bank (Armenia) daily serves an average of 3000 incoming and outgoing calls

Beeline "Call Me +" service subscribers can send messages abroad requesting to call back

Levon Zurabyan to provide Prosecutor General with video showing attempts to bribe "No!" Front proxies

Minister says situation around Football Federation of Armenia will come to light soon

SCR achieves profitability due to rigid balance between revenues and expenses and launch of resource- saving projects

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia welcomes possible criminalizing of Armenian Genocide denial by Russia

Deputy Foreign Minister: Use of Russian military base in Armenia should be agreed with Armenia

Hovhannes Sahakyan to Levon Ter-Petrosyan: Profound Constitutional reforms will help Armenia to counter external challenges

Beeline announces sales of Beeline Smart Dual, Beeline Smart 2 and Beeline Smart Pro ahead of New Year holidays

Syunik governor's son appointed assistant to director of "ArmForest" SNCO

Levon Ter-Petrosyan: It appears that the advocates for the Constitutional amendments have nothing to do but swear up and down

Eduard Sharmazanov to tell Russian lawmakers about Armenia's positive opinion on Russian bill criminalizing Armenian Genocide denial

Levon Ter-Petrosyan: It appears that the advocates for the Constitutional amendments have nothing to do but swear up and down

Sharmazanov: Incidents of downing of Armenian helicopter over Karabakh and Russian plane over Syria have the same modus operandi

Nikolay Silayev: Risk of deployment of a "third front" around Karabakh is rather high

VivaCell-MTS invests 7.9 bln AMD in cultural projects over past 10 years

Rostelecom Armenia: Awarding ceremony of "Thank You, Internet 2015" contest to be held on November 30

VivaCell-MTS has invested 23.6 bln AMD into social projects during 10 years

Orange Foundation to invest 51 mln AMD in Zangakatun border village

Beeline Child Development Corners opened in Aragatsotsn region

Bill on establishing responsibility for not recognizing Armenian Genocide by Turkey introduced into State Duma

Political expert: Russia will not involve its 102nd base in Armenia in conflict with Turkey

New Armenia refutes information that the detained criminals have ties with New Armenia Front

NSS: Organized criminal group intending to commit grave crimes in Armenia disclosed

US official says final status of Nagorno-Karabakh subject of OSCE Minsk Group-led international negotiations

Emergency situation in Yerevan: National Security Service and Police prevent possible terror attack

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



View comments (0)

Be first to comment on this article

* Indicates required fields