Deterioration of the situation of human rights on the eve of the forthcoming parliamentary elections


On the occasion of the June Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) presents a situation note on the deterioration of human rights and the state of fundamental freedoms in the Republic of Azerbaijan.

According to the information received from the Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan (HRCA), the situation of civil society has significantly worsened following the October 2003 presidential elections, which were marred by widespread fraud to ensure victory for Mr. Ilham Aliev, the son of former President Heidar Aliev.

The FIDH is particularly concerned about acts of intimidation and harassment which are increasing against human rights defenders and about the growing pressure on civil society. The FIDH fears that these acts are linked with the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled for November 6, 2005, as part of the government’s policy to silence civil society voices. Moreover, the situation of political prisoners in Azerbaijan remains extremely preoccupying.

The FIDH underlines that the coming months will constitute a key period for Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani authorities should seize upon the November parliamentary elections as an opportunity to take measures to comply with international standards of democratic elections, including the rights guaranteed to all citizens by international treaties to participate in public affairs and run for elections.

The FIDH also calls on Azerbaijani authorities to ensure all citizens the right to a fair trial and to complete the release of political prisoners, in accordance with the country’s commitments upon its accession to the Council of Europe on January 25, 2001.

The FIDH particularly urges Azerbaijani authorities to immediately put an end to any kind of pressure and harassment against journalists and human rights defenders.

Moreover, the FIDH calls on the highest Azerbaijani authorities to take all necessary measures to guarantee, in all circumstances, the freedom of expression, the right of peaceful assembly and the freedom of media, according to the state’s commitments to the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and especially in a pre-electoral period.

The FIDH calls on PACE to take these concerns into account and to use all its diplomatic and political means in order to pressure Azerbaijan into respecting human rights.

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