Stefan Schennach (Austria, SOC) and Cezar Florin Preda (Romania, EPP/CD), co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Azerbaijan, ahead of their visit to Baku, have welcomed the recent release of Mehman Aliyev, director of the independent media outlet Turan.
“The release of Mehman Aliyev is a positive signal”, they said, “but he remains under house arrest, and the charges against him have not been lifted nor have the restrictive measures against Turan Information Agency. We hope these will now soon be removed,” they added.
In a report on the functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan adopted on 7 September 2017, the Monitoring Committee reiterated that effective freedom of expression and of the media constitute one of the essential foundations of a society and need to be guaranteed. The committee therefore expressed its concerns at the arbitrary application of criminal laws against journalists and bloggers to limit freedom of expression. In this regard, the co-rapporteurs highlighted the case of blogger Mehman Huseynov and insisted that his case should be fully investigated and those found responsible held accountable.
The co-rapporteurs will continue their dialogue with the Azerbaijani authorities during their forthcoming visit to Baku on 13-16 September.