Rapporteurs respond to reports of mass arrests of demonstrators in Azerbaijan

Sunna Ævarsdóttir (Iceland, SOC), rapporteur of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on reported cases of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, and Stefan Schennach (Austria, SOC) and Sir Roger Gale (United Kingdom, EC/DA), co-rapporteurs on monitoring of Azerbaijan, have today responded to reports of recent mass arrests in Baku.

“We are gravely concerned by recent reports of mass arrests of people demonstrating following the clashes on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border”. “We are especially alarmed by claims that detainees were tortured into giving false testimony about a purported coup d’état. In this context, we are concerned in particular by the arrest and charges brought against Fuad Qahramanli, an executive member of the PFP,” they said.

“We note the extensive use of administrative detention, which lacks procedural safeguards against arbitrariness and has been repeatedly criticised by the Assembly, as well as by the European Court of Human Rights and the Committee of Ministers. We further note the recourse to public order charges, reportedly on the basis of fabricated evidence. The abuse of such charges has also been frequently criticised, including in the Court’s judgments finding politically motivated misuse of criminal law.”

“These latest developments suggest that the ‘troubling pattern of arbitrary arrest and detention of government critics’ identified by the Court and the ‘structural problem’ of misuse of administrative detention described by the Committee of Ministers persist”, they continued. “This implies a lack of real progress since the Assembly adopted Resolution 2322 (2020) in January of this year.”

“We call on the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure full respect for the freedoms of expression and assembly, the prohibition of torture, and the rights to liberty and security and to a fair trial when dealing with these detainees.”

“We shall shortly be seeking further information from the Azerbaijani delegation on progress made in implementation of Resolution 2322 (2020) on reported cases of political prisoners in Azerbaijan and of Resolution 2184 (2017) in the context of our respective procedures”, they concluded.”

The co-rapporteurs on the monitoring expressed their disappointment at the rejection of their attempts to discuss the matter constructively through direct correspondence with the Head of the Azerbaijani parliamentary delegation in the Council of Europe.