Nils Muižnieks: My “pain” over Azerbaijan’s crackdown on human rights defenders

Commissioner Nils Muižnieks has expressed his “pain” at Azerbaijan’s crackdown on the country’s human rights defenders.

Writing today on Facebook, Muižnieks declared: “The Council of Europe’s primary friends and partners in the country have almost all been targeted. While this pains me deeply, it also makes practical cooperation between Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe extremely difficult. The reprisals must stop. Now.”

The Commissioner for Human Rights also confirmed concern over the actions of Azerbaijan authorities during the country’s chairmanship of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers (May – November 2014).

“I recently returned from one of the most difficult missions of my two-and-a-half year tenure as Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights,” he wrote. “The oil-rich country in the South Caucasus, just finished holding the rotating chairmanship of the 47- member Council of Europe.

“Most countries chairing the organisation, which prides itself as the continent’s guardian of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, use their time at the helm to tout their democratic credentials. Azerbaijan will go down in history as the country that carried out an unprecedented crackdown on human rights defenders during its chairmanship.”

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