IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Steering Committee Demands Immediate and Unconditional Release of Political Prisoners in Azerbaijan
24 April 2015
In light of the recent conviction of prominent Azerbaijani human rights defenders Intigam Aliyev and Rasul Jafarov to harsh prison sentences on questionable legal charges, the EaP CSF Steering Committee adopted a statement condemning these actions by the government and urging the European Union to reconsider its current approach to relations with Azerbaijan.
Intigam Aliyev, a human rights lawyer, was working on the preparation of legal cases before the European Court of Human Rights regarding the violations by Azerbaijani government, while Rasul Jafarov organised the protest campaign related to the Eurovision Song Contest and was planning another campaign on Azerbaijan’s human rights situation during the European Games to be held in Baku on 12-28 June.
The legal proceedings against the two active members of the Civil Society Forum once again raised great concerns about respect for international standards of judicial independence in Azerbaijan. Constant harassment of civil society organisations, legal restrictions of NGO activity in the country and the government rhetoric create an atmosphere of fear for NGO activists.
The Steering Committee demands the immediate and unconditional release of Intigam Aliyev and Rasul Jafarov together with all political prisoners in Azerbaijan. The European Union and its Member States should defend the values on which the Eastern Partnership is founded and take into account the human rights situation in Azerbaijan when negotiating with its government.