Honouring a convicted murderer and transforming him into a hero is unacceptable, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has declared.
Condemning the glorification of killer Azerbaijani army officer Ramil Safarov, the Secretary Genral said: “Safarov was convicted for murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in Hungary. On August 31, he was transferred to Azerbaijan and immediately pardoned. I find it unacceptable that a convicted murderer is welcomed as a hero.
“I reject the prospect of a world whose moral code begins to fray, where respect for human dignity is denied. This is not the Europe that we should wish for future generations. I condemn such glorification of crime, and urge that we all work to uphold the respect for life, and our values as defended by the Council of Europe.”
Human rights commissioner Nils Muižnieks has also expressed his concern at Safarov’s pardon for the 2004 murder of Armenian officer Gurgen Markaryan.
“It is highly regrettable if someone who commits a gruesome murder motivated by the victim’s ethnicity or nationality is treated with a leniency not displayed towards others convicted of crimes,” he said today.
“To glorify and reward such a person flies in the face of all accepted standards for human rights protection and rule of law. Such glorification of hate crimes can only send a message that others belonging to the same ethnic group as the victim, or indeed other members of vulnerable groups, are “fair game”. This is an extremely dangerous message.”
Jean-Claude Mignon, President of the Parliamentary Assembly, also expressed his outrage at the pardon, fearing that it had caused a “serious deterioration” in relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
“This scandalous liberation is having very negative consequences on the already-strained relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and also risks destabilising the situation in the region,” he said. “I call on the Azeri authorities to reconsider their position, in line with the standards and the ethos of the Council of Europe.”