The Committee Against Torture says that Azerbaijan is not cooperating with them

The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Theodoros Rousopoulos, has called on the Azerbaijani authorities to immediately resume cooperation and constructive dialogue with the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT).

“I deeply regret the refusal of the Azerbaijani authorities to cooperate with the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and the unprecedented cancellation of the Committee’s planned visit as a result,” said a statement published on PACE's website.

Rousopoulos reminded that Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture, is one of the fundamental values of democratic societies. According to the PACE president, the attitude towards this value reflects the attitude towards human dignity.

“I urge the Azerbaijani authorities to reconsider their decision and resume cooperation and constructive dialogue with the Committee. This will not only help improve overall relations with the Council of Europe but also serve the fundamental interests of Azerbaijani citizens.”

On July 3, the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) issued an official statement regarding Azerbaijan. The Committee states that the Azerbaijani authorities have consistently failed to cooperate with it.

“The reason for such an exceptional decision to issue a public statement is Azerbaijan’s outright refusal to cooperate with the CPT. The Committee has made genuine efforts for a constructive dialogue with the Azerbaijani authorities to resolve issues central to its mandate. In its visit reports, the CPT has detailed allegations of ill-treatment and even torture by police officers. However, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan has taken no steps to implement the long-standing recommendations of the Committee to end these practices,” the statement says.

The Committee also notes that letters sent by its president to Baku remain unanswered and that the CPT wants to advance dialogue through high-level meetings in Baku. “The information obtained by the CPT is even more concerning – there have been threats to the integrity and safety of the delegation members who would be visiting. This is a fundamental and unprecedented violation of the Convention,” the statement emphasizes.

The CPT states that, given the seriousness of issues concerning ill-treatment and even torture of detained persons by law enforcement officers, it has published the report of its special visit to Azerbaijan in 2022 as an appendix to the statement.

On July 4, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan (MFA) expressed regret over the publication of such a public statement. The MFA called the complete publication of the 2022 special visit report without Azerbaijan’s consent an “unprecedented decision.” “This approach is unjust and baseless and raises legal questions,” said MFA spokesman Aykhan Hajizade.

The MFA notes that the Committee’s recommendations have always been taken into account and that this decision is particularly regrettable given the current context of Azerbaijan’s relations with the Council of Europe.

The chairman of the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee, Zahid Oruj, told Turan that significant work has been done to protect the freedoms and legal interests of citizens by law enforcement agencies during this period. “When an ordinary citizen is called to a police station, we can show that their interests are protected by recording the time they enter and the duration of their interrogation on camera, among other measures.”

According to Oruj, the internal affairs authorities always assure the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee during working meetings that they are making maximum efforts to ensure that no violence occurs in any department. “Unfortunately, such incidents sometimes surface in the media. We see that. But this cannot be presented as state policy or the general attitude of the internal affairs bodies towards citizens.”

The deputy noted that the reports do not include information about police officers who sacrifice their lives both in the fight for land and against criminal elements. “But they are spreading the notion that the state relies on the police for governance and commits atrocities against citizens. I want to tell those who share this view that if the policies of the authorities were not built on ideals serving the interests of the people, it would have been impossible to liberate the territories.”

In this regard, Oruj considered the torture cases involving those accused of espionage for Armenia as exceptional: “This situation is completely different. The purpose of this provocation was to tarnish the first victory we achieved after the April battles and to prevent future wars. Yes, such facts exist. This casts a shadow on our justice system as a whole. But after the President instructed the Prosecutor General, more than 400 affected individuals were recognized, and many were acquitted.”

According to human rights activist Rufat Safarov, cases of violence, torture, inhumane treatment, and degrading behavior have become common in Azerbaijan’s legal system. “The requirements of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment are merely formalities in Azerbaijan.”

He believes that if a journalist is subjected to electric shocks for independent professional activities and a scientist is humiliated on false charges, torture methods can be considered the norm in law enforcement agencies in Azerbaijan. “The incidents in Tartar, Ganja, Nardaran, and Bananayar are the best proof of this.”

The expert says that he is not surprised by the Azerbaijani government’s disregard for the CPT’s recommendations and lack of interest in dialogue. “Until the Azerbaijani delegation's representation in PACE is restored, cooperation with other structures of the Council of Europe, the recommendations put forward, and the critical aspects highlighted in the reports will never be taken seriously.”

In January of this year, Azerbaijan’s voting rights in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) were suspended due to its failure to fulfill key obligations it undertook when joining the Council of Europe 23 years ago. The violations of the organization's principles by Baku, the human rights situation in the country, and the increasing number of political prisoners were cited as reasons.

Before this decision was made, the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE announced that it was suspending its cooperation with the body indefinitely. The delegation’s statement said that Azerbaijan faced a “smear campaign” after restoring its territorial integrity and sovereignty. Azerbaijan regained control over its territories in 2020 with a 44-day war and a one-day operation in 2023 (including Nagorno-Karabakh).

At the beginning of the year, President Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan might reconsider its participation in the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights. However, shortly after, there were reports of negotiations for Azerbaijan’s return to PACE.


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