Following an agreement between Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and Azerbaijan's President Aliyev last August, a Joint Working Group on Human Rights Issues composed of some 18 human rights defenders, Members of Parliament and officials of the Presidential Administration met for the first time since 2008 in Baku on Wednesday, 22 October.
The purpose of the Joint Working Group, which was also attended by a representative of the Council of Europe, is to revive the dialogue between civil society and the Azerbaijani authorities.
Secretary General Jagland acknowledged the meeting as a step toward improving the current human rights situation in the country:
"The release of four human rights defenders among the 80 prisoners pardoned by presidential decree last week was a first positive step. I sincerely hope the Joint Working Group will lead to tangible results and the release of more human rights defenders. In particular, I look forward to the release of Ilgar Mammadov, whose case before the European Court of Human Rights was declared final last week”, he said.