European NGOs protest repression in Azerbaijan
On 30 January, two European NGO-coalitions issued an appeal protesting recent arrests of scores of demonstrators in Baku, Azerbaijan, followed by heavy fines and in some cases by administrative detention. The Netherlands Helsinki Committee is a signatory to this appeal. It calls on the Council of Europe and the European Parliament to take into account these new repressive measures in their decision-making related to Azerbaijan.
The January meeting of the Parlimantary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) turned down, to the disappointment of many human rights defenders in the country, a proposed resolution specifically focussing on political prisoners in Azerbaijan. PACE however did adopt a resolution based on monitoring by PACE of the implementation of commitments with regard to pluralist democracy, the rule of law and human rights which Azerbaijan undertook in 2000 before if became a member of the Council of Europe. It contains a long list of improvement required for Azrebaijan to fulfill these commitments. The resolution expresses ‘growing concern with regard to the rule of law and respect for human rights’. The diminshing degree to which Azerbaijan fulfills Council of Europe membership criteria should, the NGO statement says, lead to ‘a serious debate onthe participation of Azerbaijan in the Council of Europe’.
For more information read the full text of the NGO statement.