Azerbaijan Does Not Comply with Provisions of European Convention - MCPP

Baku / 24.10.17 / Turan: The Monitoring Center for Political Prisoners (MCPP) released a report on violations of the rights and freedoms of citizens of the country, guaranteed by the European Convention.

The report was compiled on the basis of the monitoring of the situation from November 2016 to October 2017.

As stated in the preamble of the study, over the past year the situation with fundamental human rights and freedoms in Azerbaijan has significantly worsened.

"Law enforcement agencies and the judiciary controlled by a one-party political system ignore all laws guaranteeing human rights," the head of MCPP Elshan Hasanov said.

The report provides an overview of the facts of violation of specific articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In the section on Article 10, Freedom of Expression, it was noted that "the repression of the independent press was more aggressive."

All the newspapers that criticized the authorities and exposed corrupt officials were closed.

In the spring of 2017, access to websites criticizing the power, i.e. Radio Azadlig, Meydan TV, Maide.Az, Islam Sesi, Jam.Az, the TV program Azerbaijan Saaty, Turan TV, as well as the opposition newspaper Azadlig was restricted.

In August, a criminal investigation was opened against the independent Turan news agency on false tax charges, and its director, Mehman Aliyev, was arrested. Later, although Aliyev was released on a non-departure commitment, the criminal case is not yet closed.

During the reporting period, a number of journalists and bloggers were arrested and convicted.

Among them, there are Fikret Faramazoglu (editor-in-chief of the website, Afghan Sadygov (founder and editor-in-chief of the site, Elchin Ismayilli (editor-in-chief of the site, Mehman Huseynov (blogger, head of the Institute for Reporters Freedom and Safety), Afghan Mukhtarli (investigative journalist), Aziz Orujov (executive director of the Internet TV Kanal-13), Faig Amirov (director for the distribution of the newspaper Azadlig). For the latter, the real prison term was replaced by conditional punishment in September.

Arrests and investigations in all cases took place with gross violations of the law, and the criminal cases were of a political nature. Thus, total censorship has been established in Azerbaijan, the report says.

In the section Article 9 - Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion, it speaks of "repressions against believers" and restriction of religious rights.

After the change of leadership of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations, pressure on religious communities increased.

The access to the Rahima Khanum mosque in the village of Nardaran is limited after the arrest of its Akhund (priest).

The Ashurbek mosque in the Old City of Baku, mainly visited by the Salafis, has been closed to the parishioners.

Under the pretext of improvement works, despite the protests of believers, the mosque Haji Javad was demolished.

Conditions for several believers were tightened. So, the leader of the Islamic Party Movsum Samedov was re-transferred to the special regime Gobustan prison. Araz Guliyev (editor-in-chief of the religious site was also sent there from the common prison.

A well-known theologian, editor-in-chief of the Maide.Az website Sardar Babayev was arrested and convicted.

The list of political prisoners includes the majority of believers - 103 people, the document further states.

Non-Muslim communities are also subjected to pressure.

During the reporting period, more than 60 people from the Jehovah"s Witnesses community were sentenced to fines for conducting religious rituals.

In the section Article 11 - Freedom of Assembly and Association, there are reports of restrictions on freedom of assembly, administrative arrest of organizers and participants of even meetings agreed with the authorities.

After tightening the legislation on NGOs in 2013-2014 the activities of independent civil society institutions are virtually paralyzed.

Also, the report indicates the facts of violations of rights guaranteed under Articles 6 (Right to Fair Trial) and 13 (Right to Effective Legal Defense). In particular, facts of biased judgments in the cases of journalists and activists, and deviations of defense motions by the courts are presented.

In addition, the study describes cases of violation of Article 3 (Prohibition of Torture) and in particular torture against activists Bayram Mammadov, Giyas Ibrahimov, Ahsan Nuruzadeh, and others.

* The monitoring center for political prisoners was created in autumn 2014 by a group of former "prisoners of conscience". The human rights activist Elshan Hasanov heads the structure.-06D--

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