Eastern Europe, Caucasus, Central Asia - IFEX Member Campaigns
The Sport for Rights coalition condemns the conviction and harsh sentencing of Azerbaijani human rights defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus on 13 August by the Baku Court of Grave Crimes.
One year ago, on July 30, 2014, human rights defender Leyla Yunus was arrested and charged with treason, fraud, forgery, tax evasion, and illegal entrepreneurship. Her arrest marked the start of a period of unprecedented repression in Azerbaijan.
Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev was shot dead on 9 July 2013 as he left for work in Makhachkala, Dagestan. He had actively reported on human rights violations against Muslims by the police and Russian army.
"Quick to praise President Ilham Aliyev's preparation for the inaugural European Games, the EOC leadership has so far maintained a public silence in the face of serious abuse and repression by Azerbaijan's government against its critics."
A defamation reform bill pending before the Lithuanian Parliament would constitute a welcome step in the right direction, but should be further amended to meet international standards, the International Press Institute (IPI) and Article 19 said, following a joint two-day mission to Lithuania.
Following the pre-trial detention of prominent journalist Khadija Ismayilova, civil society groups call upon the Council of Europe to suspend Azerbaijan from its membership until Azerbaijani authorities drop all charges against NGO representatives, lawyers and journalists currently in detention.
Belarusian authorities are being called upon to drop charges against journalists who were accused by the police of holding an unauthorized action. The charges were brought against the group after they took a picture in Vitebsk to support the European Federation of Journalists' Stand Up For Journalism Day.
On 30 October a Baku court sentenced opposition journalist Khalid Garayev to 25 days in detention on trumped-up charges of hooliganism and disobeying the police.
Against the backdrop of the unprecedented crackdown on civil society, Khadija Ismayilova’s arrest on criminal defamation charges seems imminent and would confirm the authorities’ intent to silence all critical voices in the country.
Civil society groups call for an end to repression of IFEX member the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, and urge UNESCO to take action to ensure free expression in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan has been providing leadership in the Council of Europe since last month, promoting and protecting human rights standards in Europe and beyond. In the meantime, back home, arbitrary arrest, torture and unfair trials are widespread.
In the lead-up to the Council's chairmanship, there has been a rise in harassment of civil society organisations (CSOs) in Azerbaijan. Official intimidation tactics have included the levying of heavy fines on CSOs for petty administrative lapses and the denial of permission to civil society groups to hold meetings in public spaces.
Azerbaijan's human rights record is inconsistent with standards embraced by the pan-European human rights organisation, the Council of Europe, and so its chairmanship, which will start in May, risks undermining the integrity of the institution's human rights principles.
Azerbaijan should promptly revise its libel laws to meet international standards for freedom of expression and the media, the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) and Media Rights Institute (MRI) said on 12 March 2014.
The International Partnership Mission on Safety and Protection of Journalists and Press Freedom in Ukraine, respectfully reminds the Ukraine government that it is the duty of the state to protect all citizens, including journalists, and to ensure that journalists and media organizations can carry out their duties without fear of violence or harassment.
In a joint statement, representatives from 33 non-governmental organisations call on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to urge Azerbaijan to repeal restrictive legislation that runs counter to Azerbaijan’s obligations to the Council of Europe with respect to freedom of expression, association, and assembly.
A Turkish court has thrown out Irfan Sancı's acquittal appeal in a case against his having published Guillaume Apollinaire’s 1911 novel, Les Exploits d’un jeune Don Juan
. Prosecution has merely been suspended for three years, meaning the publisher must live under constant threat of imprisonment.
IFEX members are calling on the president of Romania to veto proposed changes to the penal code passed by Parliament that would recriminalise insult and libel.
On 10 December 2013, the Romanian Parliament recriminalised libel and insult without any public consultation. Press freedom groups are calling on President Traian Basescu to abstain from promulgating the new law.
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IFEX members strongly condemn recent attacks on journalists during public demonstrations in Kyiv and call for those responsible to be held accountable.