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Azerbaijan: the country heading the '47' should 'lead by example' on human rights

“By chairing the Committee of Ministers, member states should translate their commitment to values into action and champion the cause of human rights and democracy. This is a huge responsibility: successful leaders should first of all lead by example, addressing in an open and constructive manner the most pressing human rights issues at home,” Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) President Anne Brasseur has said in a speech to PACE’s Standing Committee, meeting in Baku today.

“The Chairmanship of Azerbaijan comes at one of the most challenging moments, both for the Council of Europe and its member states,” she continued offering PACE’s full support in the implementation of the chairmanship priorities. “Many of these –corruption, including manipulation of sports results, cultural diversity, discrimination and intolerance, intercultural dialogue and its religious dimension, as well as political dialogue and engagement with the neighbouring regions – fall also within the scope of my priorities as President of the Assembly,” she added.

Referring to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, the PACE President recalled the Assembly’s clearly principled position in support of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan (Resolution 1416 of 2005) and stressed that upon their accession to the Council of Europe, both Armenia and Azerbaijan had committed themselves to use only peaceful means to settle the conflict. “The Assembly stands ready to support this process by all means at its disposal.”

The President regretted that there had been insufficient progress in implementation of the August 2013 recommendations of the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner concerning Azerbaijan, in particular as regards the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, political pluralism and the fight against corruption. In certain areas, such as freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly, the situation even appeared to have deteriorated. She called on the authorities to urgently address these issues in a constructive fashion within the framework of the Co-operation Action Plan with the Council of Europe.

Concerning yesterday’s decision by the PACE Bureau not to hold any Assembly committee meetings in Azerbaijan for the next two years, Anne Brasseur said this was “an unfortunate development, but we have to stick to our rules”. She stressed that “notwithstanding this decision, we will continue close and constructive collaboration with the Azerbaijani authorities in the coming months”.

Finally, the PACE President said she hoped that yesterday’s judgement handed down by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Ilgar Mammadov, Director of the Council of Europe School of Political Studies in Baku, which found that his arrest and extended detention pending trial was in violation of the Convention, will lead to him now being freed from detention“.