After their fact-finding visit to Baku from 12 to 14 January 2017, the co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Azerbaijan by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Stefan Schennach (Austria, SOC) and Cezar Florin Preda (Romania, EPP/CD), has made a statement.
“It is essential to give a renewed impetus to the reform processes and pursue dialogue with the authorities, in particular in the areas of the judiciary, media freedom and human rights, notably concerning the legislation on NGOs,” said the statement posted on the PACE’s website.
“We are ready to continue our co-operation with the Azerbaijani government and people to define and implement these reforms,” the co-rapporteurs said.
The co-rapporteurs said they discussed respect for human rights in Azerbaijan, especially the situation of so-called “political prisoners”, mainly based on Amnesty International’s list of prisoners of conscience. Referring to the release of some human rights defenders, political activists and journalists in 2016, the co-rapporteurs expressed the hope that this positive move would continue throughout 2017.
The co-rapporteurs welcomed the readiness expressed by the Azerbaijani authorities to closely co-operate with the Council of Europe on justice reform. They reiterated the need for full implementation of decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.
According to the statement, discussions also focused on the development of the internet and social media, and issues related to freedom of expression and media freedom in the digital area.
The co-rapporteurs expressed concern over the current detention of a number of young bloggers.
“Meetings were also organized with persons in detention, notably Ilgar Mammadov in Prison 2, Ilkin Rustamzade in Prison 13, Seymur Haziyev in Prison 17 and Said Dadashbayli in Prison 15,” said the statement.
The co-rapporteurs said they will present an information note regarding this visit to the Assembly’s Monitoring Committee at one of its forthcoming meetings.