Civil society call on PACE to appoint a Rapporteur to examine the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan

Representatives of 42 international and national non-governmental organizations issue the appeal to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to request the appointment of a Rapporteur to examine the situation of political prisoners in Azerbaijan.

Below is a short version of the document. Read the full statement here:  csp_letter_to_pace_on_az_political_prisoners_12_june.pdf

Civil society groups report that today there are at least 100 prisoners held on politically motivated charges in Azerbaijan. Among them are dozens of religious activists, at least nine journalists, editors and bloggers as well as members of the political opposition, human rights defenders and several persons who have been imprisoned in retaliation for the actions of their relatives who have fled the country. The most notable cases include the continued imprisonment of former opposition Presidential candidate Ilgar Mammadov, investigative journalist Afghan Mukhtarli, the leader of Muslim Unity Movement Tale Baghirzade, and Mehman Huseynov, young blogger and journalist who documented corruption among high-ranking government officials through his YouTube posts.

It is time for PACE to take decisive action to tackle the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan in order to hold the authorities accountable for implementing the commitments undertaken upon the country’s accession to the Council of Europe in 2001.

Resuming the work started by Christopher Strässer will send a first strong signal to the Azerbaijani authorities to demonstrate that the Assembly will not tolerate a continuation of this systematic repressive practice which has no place in a Council of Europe Member State. As politically motivated imprisonment violates the underlying principles of the Council of Europe, appointing a Rapporteur with the mandate to investigate the issue and make recommendations is consistent with the mandate of the organisation.

Reiterating our concerns about the widespread use of politically motivated imprisonment in Azerbaijan we, the undersigned civil society organizations call upon the members of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights the PACE, which has been mandated to make a decision on this matter, to:

  1. Appoint a Rapporteur to examine the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan;
  2. Ensure that the Rapporteur is appointed through a fully transparent process and in close consultation with civil society.


  1. ARTICLE 19 (United Kingdom)
  2. Association UMDPL (Ukraine)
  3. Austrian Helsinki Association (Austria)
  4. Bir Duino (Kyrgyzstan)
  5. Center for Civil Liberties (Ukraine)
  6. Center for Participation and Development (Georgia)
  7. Centre de la protection internationale (France)
  8. Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights (Russia)
  9. Citizens’ Watch (Russia)
  10. Crude Accountability (USA)
  11. Freedom Files (Russia/Poland)
  12. Freedom Now (United States)
  13. German Russian Exchange – DRA (Germany)
  14. Helsinki Association (Armenia)
  15. Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland)
  16. Human Rights Club (Azerbaijan)
  17. Human Rights House Foundation (Norway)
  18. Human Rights Information Center (Ukraine)
  19. Human Rights Monitoring Institute (Lithuania)
  20. (Switzerland)
  21. Index on Censorship (United Kingdom)
  22. International Partnership for Human Rights (Belgium)
  23. Italian Coalition for Civil Liberties – CILD (Italy)
  24. Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law (Kazakhstan)
  25. Legal Policy Research Center (Kazakhstan)
  26. Macedonian Helsinki Committee (Macedonia)
  27. Moscow Helsinki Group (Russia)
  28. Netherlands Helsinki Committee (The Netherlands)
  29. Norwegian Helsinki Committee (Norway)
  30. OMCT (Switzerland)
  31. Promo LEX (Moldova)
  32. Protection of rights without borders (Armenia)
  33. Public Alternative (Ukraine)
  34. Public Association “Dignity” (Kazakhstan)
  35. Public Verdict Foundation (Russia)
  36. Regional Center for Strategic Studies (Azerbaijan/Georgia)
  37. SOLIDARUS (Germany)
  38. The Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House (Belarus)
  39. The Kosova Rehabilitation Centre for Torture Victims (Kosovo)
  40. The Swedish OSSE Network (Sweden)
  41. Truth Hounds (Ukraine/Georgia)
  42. Women of the Don (Russia)

Individual signatories from Azerbaijan

  1. Zohrab Ismayil, Open Azerbaijan Initiative
  2. Khalid Baghirov, lawyer
  3. Khadija Ismayilova, investigative journalist
  4. Akif Gurbanli, Democratic Initiatives Institute


Photo: © PPCOE/CC BY-SA 3.0 (