Azerbaijan: Council of Europe must uphold its human rights credentials
|Publication Date||23 January 2013|
|Cite as||Article 19, Azerbaijan: Council of Europe must uphold its human rights credentials, 23 January 2013, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5107a8b62.html [accessed 24 October 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
ARTICLE 19 calls on the Council of Europe (CoE) to take a tough line with member states who fail to fulfil obligations or risk embarrassment and a loss of credibility.
Today's agenda of the current Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) session includes a vote on two resolutions on Azerbaijan calling on the country to improve fundamental human rights in the country and release political prisoners. ARTICLE 19 calls on PACE to adopt both resolutions.
"The Council of Europe must show that it means business and that it will address member states who fail to do what they have promised. The Council of Europe is the bedrock for human rights standards in the region. If member states are allowed to get away with blatant violations and fail to engage properly with the mechanisms that have been put in place it loses both respect and influence" said Agnès Callamard, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.
"These resolutions are an essential step towards making sure that Azerbaijan complies with its obligations to the Council of Europe and the commitments it has made to human rights. We have witnessed ongoing and systematic violations of basic human rights in Azerbaijan for too long, and urgent action is needed to address this situation" added Callamard.
The first resolution outlines Azerbaijan's failure to honour its obligations and commitments as a member state of the Council of Europe and expresses a 'growing concern with regards to rule of law and respect for human rights'.
"Azerbaijan really needs more effective input by Council of Europe institutions in order to establish structures that will ensure fundamental political and civil rights and freedoms", said Rashid Hajili, the Director of the Media Rights Institute, a local human rights organisation.
"Today when the existing political and legal system in Azerbaijan continues to produce more and more new violations - particularly in the field of free expression, peaceful assembly, rights to liberty and free trial, freedom of religion as well as property rights - close attention by the Council of Europe is key to prevent the continuation of this "vicious circle," he continued.
The second resolution calls for Azerbaijan to address the issue of political prisoners. Out of 80 political prisoners, identified in a report by the CoE's Special Rapporteur on political prisoners, Christoph Strässer, several were released by Presidential pardon on 26 December 2012. However many still remain in detention on questionable charges, including journalists Avaz Zeynalli, Hilal Mammadov, Vugar Gonagov, Zaur Guliyev, Faramaz Allahverdiyev (Novruzoglu), Fuad Huseynov, Nijat Aliyev, Araz Guliyev and human rights defender Ilham Amiraslanov.
After his appointment in 2009, Strässer was continuously denied a visa by the Azerbaijani government for three years. This prevented him from entering the country to carry out the necessary research to effectively carry out his mandate. This refusal to cooperate seriously undermined the work of the Rapporteur and the credibility of the Assembly as a monitoring body.
For detailed information about the two PACE resolutions on Azerbaijan click here.