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PACE should adopt resolution on the functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan, say human rights organisations

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - 24 June 2010 - On the occasion of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly debate on the functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan, ARTICLE 19, in coalition with 16 other human rights organisations, calls on the Parliamentary Assembly to address serious human rights violations in the country.

Today, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will debate and vote on a resolution which calls on the government of Azerbaijan to ensure freedom of the media in the upcoming elections, release journalist Eynulla Fatullayev, decriminalise defamation and more generally "create the conditions for journalists to conduct their professional work without interference by the authorities".

The resolution is part of the report of the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe on the functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan. The report discusses key issues linked to the democratisation process and the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the media environment.

The committee's report reflects many concerns ARTICLE 19 has previously raised with the Azerbaijani government. ARTICLE 19 fully endorses the opinion reflected in the committee's report that: "the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in the Fatullayev v. Azerbaijan case is of crucial importance for the functioning of the Azerbaijani judicial system and (we) hope it will lead the authorities to refrain from arresting, prosecuting and convicting independent or opposition journalists on various bumped up criminal charges as demonstrated in the case of Eynulla Fatullayev."

Together with 16 other human rights organisations, ARTICLE 19 calls on PACE to adopt the proposed resolution. We urge PACE to continue to pay close attention to human rights violations in Azerbaijan, as reflected in the draft resolution. At the same time, the Azerbaijani government must take immediate and meaningful steps to address human rights violations, and demonstrate its commitment to the protection of the right to freedom of expression, as required by the European Convention on Human Rights.

Click below to read the joint statement:
a-common-statement-on-human-rights-in-azerbaijan.pdf (178 KB)

ARTICLE 19
Index on Censorship
Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety

Non-IFEX signatories

"Democracy Monitor" Public Union
Association for the Protection of Women s Rights in Azerbaijan after D. Aliyeva
Human Rights Center
Human Rights Center Azerbaijan
Human Rights House Foundation
Institute for Peace and Democracy
International Federation for Human Rights, FIDH
Legal Education Society
Media Rights Institute
Norwegian Helsinki Committee
Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
Public Association for Assistance to Free Economy
Rafto Foundation
Women Association for Rational Development (WARD)

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