Restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly still serious human rights concerns in Azerbaijan

Video message

Strasbourg 11/12/2013

In a video message to the Azerbaijan's Human Rights Forum, organized by the Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS), in Baku, Azerbaijan, the Commissioner expressed his serious concern at the apparent intensification of the practice of unjustified or selective criminal prosecution of journalists and others who express critical opinions, including bloggers and online activists.

Referring to his report on Azerbaijan, published 6 August 2013, the Commissioner again pointed to the lack of progress with regard to decriminalisation of defamation which chills freedom of expression in the country. He also expressed his concern about limitations on freedom of assembly imposed by the banning of demonstrations in central and easily accessible locations and by the use of force leading to arrests and, in some cases, harsh sentences.

The Commissioner saluted the NGOs and human rights defenders for their crucial role and concluded: "It is incumbent on all Azerbaijan's partners and on the international community to work to ensure that Azerbaijan lives up to the commitments it undertook when joining the Council of Europe, as well as to its international obligations."

Watch the video