The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, published today the report on her visit to Azerbaijan, with recommendations on how to ensure freedom of expression, increase the number of lawyers and the quality of legal assistance in the country, and empower internally displaced persons (IDPs).
The Commissioner regrets that no progress has been made regarding the protection of freedom of expression. Journalists and social media activists who express dissent or criticism of the authorities are continuously deprived of their liberty on a variety of charges that defy credibility. She once again calls on the authorities to release all those detained because of the views they expressed and to fully implement several judgments of the European Court of Human Rights relating to arbitrary restrictions of freedom of expression.
The Commissioner expresses doubts as regards the lawfulness of the travel bans imposed on dozens of journalists, lawyers, political activists and human rights defenders, stressing that the authorities must refrain from imposing arbitrary or disproportionate travel bans and lift immediately those which are in contradiction with the right to leave the country. The Commissioner also recommends decriminalising defamation and bringing legislation and practice affecting Internet freedom in line with European standards.