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Azerbaijan: Parliamentary Assembly President alarmed by crackdown on civil society, human rights defenders and independent journalists

Tomorrow, Parliamentary Assembly President Anne Brasseur, will raise her concerns over Azerbaijan’s treatment of human rights defenders, with the country’s Speaker of Parliament Ogtay Asadov.

Brasseur is alarmed by Azerbaijan’s “crackdown on civil society, human rights defenders and independent journalists” and fears the national “authorities’ willingness to respect the fundamental values of the Council of Europe is seriously in question.”

Earlier today, journalist Khadija Ismayilova, received a seven and a half year jail term for embezzlement and tax evasion. Last month, the activists Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif were imprisoned for eight and a half years and seven years respectively, on similar charges.

Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland says the recent legal action would have a “chilling effect on freedom of expression in the country.”

Now the assembly president will put her human rights concerns to Asadov at the 2 September 4th World Conference of Speakers of Parliament.

“I deplore the sentencing today of Khadija Ismayilova to seven and a half years in prison,” Brasseur declared.

“Today’s sentence is manifestly disproportionate and raises serious concerns, given the systemic problems with the lack of independence of the judiciary and fairness of trials in Azerbaijan.

“The crackdown on civil society, human rights defenders and independent journalists must stop and I urge the Azerbaijani authorities to take a step back. The authorities’ willingness to respect the fundamental values of the Council of Europe is now seriously in question, and I will raise this issue tomorrow with Azerbaijan’s Speaker of Parliament Ogtay Asadov, whom I am meeting on the margins of the 4th World Conference of Speakers of Parliament.”

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