Azerbaijan releases a number of human rights defenders, more behind bars.

On March 17, Rasul Jafarov, founder of the "Sport for Rights" campaign, Anar Mammadli and Hilal Mammadov were pardonned by presidential decree, and Rauf Mirqadirov had his sentence commuted. Most of these human rights defenders were arrested between April and December 2014 as part of a massive crackdown on civil society, including lawyers, journalists and human rights defenders.

Throughout 2015, FIDH, through it’s Observatory, tirelessly campaigned for their release. This involved a fact-finding mission, a series of trial observations, and sustained advocacy before intergovernmental organisations. In June 2015, the Council of Europe (CoE) passed a landmark resolution calling for the release of human rights defenders and all political prisoners, and in October, CoE Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland suspended the Council’s participation in a Baku-based Joint Working Group on Human Rights, echoing FIDH’s recommendation.

The Observatory continues to work for the release of all human rights defenders and calls for the immediate release of Khadija Ismayilova and Intigam Aliyev.

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