Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has revealed his deep concern at the arrest of Azerbaijan human rights defender Leyla Yunus and the prosecution case against her husband Arif.
“I conveyed my concerns and asked for further information and clarification of this case in a telephone conversation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, Elnur Mammadyarov,” jagland confirmed in a statement.
“I expect that the ongoing enquiry by the judicial authorities into the alleged actions of these two prominent civil society representatives will meet the required Council of Europe standards.”
Nils Muiznieks, the Commissioner for Human Rights, has called on the Azerbaijan authorities to stop the “instrumental use of criminal suits” against the country’s activists.
“The arrest of Rasul Jafarov and the travel ban imposed on Emin Huseynov provide yet another disturbing illustration of how human rights defenders in Azerbaijan are systematically threatened with an instrumental use of criminal suits,” Muiznieks told the Azerbaijan Turan news outlet.
“These cases happen shortly after the arrest of Leyla Yunus and her husband, which followed a long list of arrests of activists who are now muzzled behind bars.
“By stifling dissent, Azerbaijan is failing to comply with its international obligations which require safeguarding freedom of expression, assembly and association. It is necessary that Azerbaijan reverse the situation.
“A first step would be to free all those detained because of the views they expressed. I will continue to raise these concerns with the authorities as part of the follow up to my report and observations on the human rights situation in the country.”