In a letter addressed to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan, Vilayat Eyvazov, published today, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, raises concerns about the recent dispersal of environmental protests and the arrests of participants in the Soyudlu village of the Gadabay district of Azerbaijan.
The Commissioner writes that the use of disproportionate force and special riot control equipment against protesters by the police raises serious human rights issues. She stresses the importance of ensuring accountability of law enforcement and of providing adequate training on human rights standards to all police officers involved in policing assemblies. Given the peaceful character of those protests, she seeks clarifications regarding the legal basis and justification for dispersing peaceful protests as well as the compatibility of the national protocol on policing public events with the human rights requirements of necessity and proportionality.
The Commissioner stresses that restrictions on access to the Soyudlu village following the protests “raise serious concerns about the human rights of local residents, including freedom of movement and respect for private life”. She notes that these measures also seem to have heavily restricted the legitimate work of independent journalists, human rights defenders and lawyers. She requests information on the legal grounds for these measures and their compatibility with human rights standards on the exercise of freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as on the rights to participate in public affairs and to fair trial guarantees.