Strasbourg, 7 October 2015 (AFP) -The Council of Europe said Wednesday it was ending its cooperation on human rights with Azerbaijan because of the “deterioration” of the situation of fundamental rights in this country.
The Secretary General of the pan-European organization, Thorbjørn Jagland, informed the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe of its decision to withdraw from the joint working group on human rights set up in order to improve dialogue with Baku in the subject, he said in a statement.
This working group is composed of 18 activists of human rights, members of parliament and government, and representatives of the Council of Europe. The meetings were very episodic.
A representative of the Council of Europe are participating since October 2014 “to revive the dialogue between civil society and the authorities. Despite this initiative, the general situation of human rights activists has deteriorated, “the organization said in a statement.
“More and more human rights activists have recently been imprisoned, and the Council of Europe has received disturbing reports about unacceptable prison conditions,” according to the same statement. Among the members of this working group included including investigative journalist and activist Azerbaijani anti-corruption Khadija Ismailova, recently sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.
During September, a young opposition journalist Shirin Abbasov, was arrested for “resisting the police”. In August, a couple of activists for human rights, Leyla and Arif Yunus, has been sentenced to long prison terms in a case denounced by NGOs as orchestrated by the government.
President Ilham Aliev, 53, denies any accusation of breach of human rights, and his government denounced the criticism as a smear campaign against the country, a member since 2001 of the Council of Europe.
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