PACE deputies initiate resolution on threats to journalists and human rights activists in Azerbaijan
Baku/02.05.22/Turan: On the eve of the annual World Freedom Day on 3 May, a group of PACE deputies came up with an initiative to adopt a resolution of the Assembly on threats to the life and security of journalists and human rights defenders in Azerbaijan.
Note that the initiative by Belgian MP Christophe Lacroix was supported by 37 PACE members from 24 countries.
"The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is concerned about the growing level of violence, intolerance and persistent threats against Azerbaijani journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders in Azerbaijan," reads the petition signed by the PACE MPs.
Recall that journalist and human rights activist, well-known LGBT activist Avaz Shikhmammadov (creative pseudonym Avaz Hafizli) was murdered in his home on February 22, 2022. Numerous requests to protect his life were ignored by law enforcement agencies of Azerbaijan, the document says.
Besides, on April 23, 2022, the well-known blogger and human rights activist, former prisoner of conscience Bakhtiyar Hajiyev was kidnapped by masked men, who tortured and subjected him to inhuman treatment. They ordered the blogger to delete his critical publications. Hajiyev was released after being warned that he would be physically assaulted if he continued his criticism.
Over the past two months, many investigative journalists have received warnings from representatives of Azerbaijan's law enforcement agencies demanding that they stop their anti-corruption investigations of government officials. "Otherwise, journalists were threatened with death and serious health problems which would be like accidents or poisoning. After these threats, some of these journalists were forced to declare the cessation of anti-corruption investigations, while others still decided to continue their work," the document further states.
The Parliamentary Assembly should examine and study the murder and assassination cases and continuing threats to the lives and freedoms of Azerbaijani journalists, bloggers and human rights activists who continue to work at home and abroad and produce a comprehensive report on this issue, the petitioners say.
The Assembly should call on the Azerbaijani government to comply with the European Convention on Human Rights and guarantee the safety of journalists and human rights defenders, allowing them to continue their professional activities unhindered.
Emin Huseynov, director of the Institute of Reporters' Freedom and Safety, told the Turan News Agency that the 38 deputies' appeal will be considered in mid-May by a standing committee and the PACE Bureau.
Huseynov believes that two solutions are possible.
"Either the Bureau will appoint a separate rapporteur on the issue. Or the three chief rapporteurs preparing general reports on the protection of human rights defenders, on media freedom and safety of journalists and on the protection of LGBTI people will be assigned to visit Azerbaijan separately and to reflect the situation in the country with special chapters in their annual reports," Huseynov explained.
He pointed out that the document was signed by representatives of all five PACE political groups, including the leaders of four of them. -06В-