The Secretary General of the 47-nation Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, has launched an official inquiry into Azerbaijan's implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"Judgments from the European Court of Human Rights have highlighted an arbitrary application of the law in Azerbaijan, notably in order to silence critical voices and limit freedom of speech," said the Secretary General.
"In these worrying circumstances, and given the lack of positive steps to address the situation, I will send representatives to Azerbaijan to seek explanations from the authorities concerning the country's implementation of the Human Rights Convention. I am particularly alarmed when individuals are deprived of their liberty due to an abuse of power by a country’s legal authorities, as the European Court of Human Rights found in the case of Ilgar Mammadov. This is a very serious violation of the Convention".
In May 2014, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that criminal proceedings against Ilgar Mammadov had no legal basis and that the actual purpose of his deprivation of liberty was to silence him for criticising the government.
Mr Mammadov remains in prison despite repeated calls from the Secretary General and the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which oversees the implementation of judgments from the court, for his immediate release.
Under Article 52 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Secretary General can launch an inquiry to find out how the domestic law in any member state makes sure that the convention is properly implemented.
Inquiries under Article 52 are rare. It is the first time Secretary General Jagland has used this measure.