Azerbaijan: Human rights situation deteriorating

… ahead of election

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From: HREA – Human Rights Education Associates and its Newsletter
Date: 25/06/2008

Strasbourg, 24.06.2008 – The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) today expressed great concern at the “deteriorating” human rights situation in Azerbaijan, undermining any efforts being made by the authorities to meet basic democratic standards in the forthcoming Presidential election.

In a resolution approved today, the parliamentarians spelled out a “road-map” of urgent steps to be taken ahead of the 15 October election, including:

• ensuring balanced election commissions and an efficient complaints procedure;
• providing free broadcast time and print space in state media under equal conditions for political parties and blocs;
• guaranteeing in practice the opposition’s right to hold public rallies.

The Assembly said restrictions on freedom of expression – including harrassment and intimidation of opposition journalists – and limits on freedom of assembly and association were “inadmissible in a Council of Europe member state”, and declared that the issue of political prisoners had not been resolved.

As regards the follow-up to the issue of alleged political prisoners, the Assembly called for the immediate release of opposition journalists Ganimat Zahidov, Sakit Zahidov and Eynulla Fatullayev. It also called upon the Azerbaijani authorities to consider the release of Natiq Efendiyev, Rasim Alekperov, Ruslan Bashirli, Akif Huseynov and Telman Ismayilov on the basis of humanitarian grounds.

(Human Rights Education Associates HREA is an international non-governmental organisation that supports human rights learning; the training of activists and professionals; the development of educational materials and programming; and community-building through on-line technologies).


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