Azerbaijan violates human rights despite its Council of Europe commitments

As a member of the Council of Europe, Republic of Azerbaijan has committed to respect basic freedoms, human rights and democracy. In spite of this commitment, human rights violations continue to be numerous and widespread and occur on a systematic basis.

This is one of the main conclusions of a preliminary report on implementation of the Council of Europe commitments in the field of fundamental freedoms in Azerbaijan. The report is released by Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety on 25 June 2013.

Twelve years after accession, the Council of Europe remains an important organization for Azerbaijan. The Council of Europe gives Azerbaijan the opportunity to participle fully, and on an equal footing with other member states, in European co-operation in the field of human rights, the rule of law and democracy.

Despite hopes that accession to the Council of Europe in 2001 would have had a significant influence on the development of fundamental rights within the country, Azerbaijan’s people continue to suffer diverse forms of repression and human rights violations that violate nearly the entire spectrum of their human rights.

The Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS) notes with dismay that the Azerbaijani authorities have since acted in blatant disregard of their commitments. The repressive measures taken against the media and critical voices, and the adoption of draconian pieces of legislation that contradict international standards have cast severe doubt on their good faith.

Despite these attacks on the right to freedom of expression, assembly and association by Azerbaijan, which is a member of the Council of Europe, the Assembly has in no case taken any action to suspend or threaten to suspend the membership, even though it has openly recognized that fundamental human rights are being violated in Azerbaijan.

IRFS calls on the Council of Europe, as well as the individual Member States which form it, not to turn a blind eye to the human rights crisis in Azerbaijan and denounce the serious and persistent breaches of fundamental human rights and freedoms in this country.

IRFS condemns the authorities of Azerbaijan for having unjustifiably failed to fulfil Azerbaijan’s human rights obligations before the Council of Europe. IRFS calls on the Assembly to take a tough line with member states who fail to fulfil obligations. If member states are allowed to get away with blatant violations and fail to comply with the Council of Europe rules and treaties the organization, as such, loses both respect and influence.

The report is a preliminary (pilot) version of the ground-breaking review of the implementation of the Council of Europe commitments vis-à-vis fundamental freedoms in Azerbaijan. The final version of the report will be launched in October, during fourth session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

The full version of the report is available here