PACE committee calls for release of alleged political prisoners in Azerbaijan

Strasbourg, 26.06.2012 – The Azerbaijani authorities should be invited to speedily solve the cases on a consolidated list of 89 alleged political prisoners by releasing or retrying them, according to the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

In a draft resolution approved today during a meeting on the fringe of PACE’s plenary session in Strasbourg, based on a report by Christoph Strässer (Germany, SOC), the committee noted that the issue of political prisoners was “still not resolved” in Azerbaijan.

The text invites the authorities to immediately release presumed political prisoners who have already served several years of their sentence, and to release on humanitarian grounds those who are seriously ill. Those who were convicted in breach of fair trial principles, or who were involved in certain political events only to a minor and very secondary degree, should be released or retried.

The committee also notes that several persons on the consolidated list of presumed political prisoners or on earlier versions of such lists had been set free on different grounds, such as presidential pardons, for health reasons, or simply following the expiration of their prison terms.

Earlier the committee approved a separate report by Mr Strässer in which it reaffirmed its support for non-country-specific general criteria drawn up in 2001 by the Independent Experts of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to define political prisoners.

Both reports are now due to go forward for plenary debate by the Assembly.