The Council of Europe has been acutely concerned by reported
cases of political prisoners in Azerbaijan since the country’s accession
in 2001. The European Court of Human Rights (the Court) has now
adopted a series of judgments finding arbitrary arrest and detention
of opposition politicians, civil society activists, human rights defenders
and critical journalists, often combined with violations of their
freedom of expression or assembly. Many of these judgments establish
facts that clearly satisfy the Assembly’s definition of ‘political
prisoner’, as set out in its Resolution
The Committee also considers that the credibility of the most
extensive, detailed and regularly updated lists of alleged political
prisoners has been confirmed by findings in the Court’s judgments.
There is thus a rebuttable presumption that people on these lists
are political prisoners.
Whilst welcoming the steps taken by Azerbaijan to reform its
penitentiary, criminal justice and judicial systems, the Committee
is yet to be convinced that these measures will achieve the specific
results required by the Court. It therefore proposes a series of
recommendations to the Azerbaijani authorities and the Committee
of Ministers in order to resolve the problem fully and durably.