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PACE Again Criticized Azerbaijan...

The other day PACE passed a resolution by the Estonian MP Mailis Reps, called "Strengthening the protection and role of human rights defenders in Council of Europe member States" and a resolution by Luxembourg's MP Yves Grutchen "Europe to prevent disproportionate restrictions on non-governmental organizations'', with a particular focus and serious criticism towards our neighboring Azerbaijan.

"While Armenian and Georgian activists enjoyed considerable freedom to carry out their activities (despite some incidents of intimidation, especially against activists dealing with the rights of minorities and LGBT people), the situation of their counterparts in Azerbaijan was very difficult, due to the ongoing crackdown on civil society," is written in the first resolution.

PACE resolutions pay tribute to human rights defenders, for prioritizing, protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental values, stressing that the majority of CoE member states, NGOs and human rights defenders are free to work in an environment that is conducive to the development of their activities. However, PACE remains deeply concerned about the growing numbers of attacks and pressure against human rights defenders.

Azerbaijan is offered to amend laws concerning NGOs in line with the recommendations of the Venice Commission. The MPs also urged to refrain from human rights suppressions and attacks and not to approve laws that disproportionately restrict their activities.

The resolutions in particular state that the Azerbaijani human rights activists, civil society representatives, journalists are convicted and sent to prison only because they do not want to become a slave to the Aliyev regime. Leyla and Arif Yunus, Khajida Izmayilova, Ilgar Mammadov and dozens of other political prisoners are one by one mentioned in the resolutions.

"Azerbaijani human rights defenders faced fabricated charges leading to long-term imprisonment, violent repressions in detention facilities including ill treatment, torture or death, and threats and physical attacks against themselves and members of their families. In addition, there were continuous and systematic hindrances to the enjoyment of related fundamental rights such as the rights to freedom of expression (various forms of intimidation of journalists and bloggers, limited access to information through restrictions on opposition media, provisions on defamation incompatible with international standards, etc.), freedom of assembly (various restrictions on holding of rallies) and freedom of association (due to restrictive and arbitrary NGO legislation)," the resolution reads.

The Azerbaijani media naturally gave a negative reaction to the acceptance of these resolutions, stating that they are too exaggerated and do not correspond to reality.

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