Today, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, published his written observations submitted to the European Court of Human Rights on a case concerning journalist and human rights defender Khadija Ismayilova. The Commissioner’s observations underscore the structural deficiencies in the area of freedom of expression in Azerbaijan, including judicial harassment of those expressing critical opinions and a pattern of retaliatory measures against those who co-operate with international organisations to expose human rights violations in the country.
“The case of Khadija Ismayilova, whom I met several times in Strasbourg and Baku, is emblematic of the reprisals that journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders face in Azerbaijan because of their work. They are often selectively targeted with criminal prosecutions on charges that defy credibility, a problem which both affects the human rights of the persons concerned and obstructs the functioning of international human rights mechanisms.”Third party interventions represent an additional tool at the Commissioner’s disposal to help promote and protect human rights. They are foreseen by the European Convention on Human Rights and are based on the Commissioner’s country and thematic activities. These observations do not include any comments on the facts or merits of the case, but provide objective and impartial information to the Court on aspects of concern to the Commissioner.
The Commissioner has visited Azerbaijan in November 2012, May 2013 and October 2014.