ДАЖЕ В МЕЖДУНАРОДНЫЙ ЖЕНСКИЙ ДЕНЬ ВЛАСТИ АЗЕРБАЙДЖАНА ХОТЯТ ПОКАЗАТЬ ВСЕМ, ЧТО НЕ ОТКАЖУТСЯ  ОТ  НАСИЛИЯEVEN ON THE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY, AZERBAIJANI AUTORITIES HAVE PROVEN ONCE AGAIN THAT THEY WILL NOT END THE VIOLENCEInvitation to a press conference by Mehman HuseynovИСБР : ОТКАЗЫВАЯСЬ РАССЛЕДОВАТЬ УБИЙСТВО ЭЛЬМАРА ГУСЕЙНОВА ВЛАСТИ АЗЕРБАЙДЖАНА СОДЕЙСТВУЮТ БЕЗНАКАЗАННОСТИ ЗА ПРЕСТУПЛЕНИЯ ПРОТИВ ЖУРНАЛИСТОВIRFS: Azerbaijan’s Refusal to Investigate the Murder of Elmar Huseynov is Yet Another Blow to Freedom of ExpressionKleptocracy in the OSCE states, a threat to democracy and human rightsSide Event: Azerbaijan’s Kleptocracy, Repression and Council of Europe Membership

ДАЖЕ В МЕЖДУНАРОДНЫЙ ЖЕНСКИЙ…

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EVEN ON THE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY, AZERBAIJANI…

The Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety condemns the Azerbaijani authorities for the violent police action against journalists, on international..

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Invitation to a press conference by Mehman Huseynov

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The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety strongly condemns the Azerbaijani authorities for the deliberate inaction and the factual refusal to..

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Kleptocracy in the OSCE states, a threat to democracy…

The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety cordially invites you to a side event: Kleptocracy in the OSCE states, a threat to democracy and human..

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Side Event: Azerbaijan’s Kleptocracy, Repression…

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A delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) was in Baku on 22 and 23 January 2020 to assess the pre-electoral climate of the early parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, scheduled for 9 February.
Following discussions with various interlocutors, the PACE delegation considered it necessary to stress that there was a lot of room for improvement and that the period of time left until election day should allow at least some improvements to be realised.
The representatives of state institutions welcomed observation of the elections by the PACE delegation and stressed their political will to organise elections transparently, in a free and fair atmosphere. The delegation recalls that an election and its observation do not concern polling day only, but are a process involving several stages, all of which need to be analysed and evaluated in order to assess the entire electoral process.
Some stakeholders expressed serious concerns regarding respect for fundamental rights, especially freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. Some opposition parties informed the delegation that they have decided to boycott the elections due to the restrictive environment.
As for the candidates’ registration and their participation in the election, the delegation strongly regrets that some political leaders were prevented from standing in the elections due to non-expunged criminal records, despite rulings of the European Court of Human Rights. It also recalls that in September 2019 the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, examining the execution of judgments in the Ilgar Mammadov group of cases v. Azerbaijan, required Azerbaijan “rapidly to eliminate all the remaining negative consequences of the criminal charges brought against each of the applicants, principally by ensuring that the convictions are quashed and deleted from their criminal records”. The PACE delegation considers that the non-enforcement by Azerbaijan of the decisions of the Strasbourg Court calls into question the constitutional right of citizens of the country to participate effectively in the election.
The President of the Central Election Commission informed the delegation about the preparations for the elections. Nevertheless, the delegation took note of the doubts expressed by many interlocutors who echoed the remarks of the Venice Commission and judgements of the European Court of Human Rights concerning the independence and impartiality of the election administration. The delegation recalls that, as mentioned in the last memorandum of the Venice Commission on legal issues concerning the previous parliamentary elections, “the election observation missions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) repeatedly insisted on the need for implementation of the Venice Commission’s recommendations, in order to bring legislation into conformity with international standards.”
Interlocutors stated that, although guaranteed by the Constitution, fundamental freedoms of assembly, association and movement are severely limited by the legal framework and its implementation, pointing to systematic harassment and criminal prosecution of those who express critical views of the government. The delegation heard that freedom of assembly is not respected by the authorities, noting that the last authorised political rally was held in Baku in January 2019. It was informed that authorities used physical force to disperse an unauthorised rally of the opposition on 19 October in Baku, arresting many activists and opposition leaders. PACE considers that all necessary measures must be taken to guarantee the freedom of assembly and expression during the election campaign for all participants.
As for the funding of the election campaign, the PACE delegation recalls that a number of recommendations by GRECO, the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body, to improve campaign finance have not been fully addressed, including in respect of the time period for reporting, harmonisation of party financing laws, the independence of the oversight body, the lack of effective sanctions, and the need for more proactive monitoring of campaign finance.
Freedom of expression and media freedom, as well as the right of access to information, are guaranteed in the Constitution. Nevertheless, defamation remains a criminal offence, also applicable to online content, with a penalty of up to two years in prison. Since 2017, the Ministry of Transportation, Communications and High Technologies has had the right to block websites of media outlets because of their content, without prior court decision. At the moment, according to interlocutors of the PACE delegation, a number of news websites are blocked, and online activists are increasingly exposed to detention and intimidation. The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights has recently noted that “no progress has been made with regard to protecting freedom of expression in Azerbaijan”.
The PACE delegation was in Baku at the invitation of the Speaker of the National Assembly of Azerbaijan, the Milli Mejlis. It met with its Vice-President and members of the delegation of Azerbaijan to PACE, with leaders and representatives of parliamentary groups and parties represented in the Milli Mejlis, with leaders and representatives of extra-parliamentary opposition parties, with the President and members of the Central Election Commission, with representatives of civil society and the media, with the head and members of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission, and with diplomats based in Baku.
A 32-member delegation from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe will arrive in Azerbaijan prior to the early parliamentary elections to observe the vote.
*Members of the delegation:
Alfred Heer (Switzerland, ALDE), Acting Head of Delegation
Raivo Tamm (Estonia, EPP/CD)
Georgios Katrougkalos (Greece, UEL)
Stefan Schennach (Austria, SOC), monitoring co-rapporteur

The website Criminal.az underwent a cyber attack, resulting in the removal of more than 400 articles and posts. This was reported to Turan by its head Anar Mammadov.
According to him, the intervention took place on January 20 in the period 14.27-30.
“It was not just a rude hacker attack. Having cracked the password, the attackers logged into the admin panel and purposefully deleted more than 400 publications,” Mammadov said.
Since January 20 was a day off, he noticed interference the next day.
“When we began to check, we realized that there was an external interference, and the records were deleted purposefully,” Mammadov said, noting that experts are trying to restore the publications. He regards the incident as pressure on him for publishing critical materials.
Mammadov appealed to the Prosecutor General, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State Security Service, the Special State Guard Service and the Ministry of Communications with a request to investigate the incident and punish those responsible.
Recall that on January 10 a fake appeared on social networks about the brutal beating of Mammadov on the order of a certain oligarch. The journalist turned to the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. On January 13, Minister Vilayat Eyvazov received him and promised to investigate the incident.
On January 10, Mammadov was in the Agdam region at the trial in a lawsuit against businesswoman Malahat Gurbanova, demanding that the journalist be imprisoned for “slander” and “insult”.
If convicted, Mammadov will face up to 2 years in prison and plus 5.5 years, which he is serving on probation for publications about the events in Ganja in July 2018.

The Institute of Freedom and Security of Reporters (IRFS) will hold discussions on the “Crisis at the Council of Europe: the eternal question of political prisoners in Azerbaijan” on January 27 at 13.00 in the Palace of Europe in Strasbourg. The IRFS press release said that during the meeting a group of experts with direct experience and comprehensive knowledge of the current situation in Azerbaijan will discuss the issue of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. Particular attention will be paid to independent journalists and human rights defenders who were imprisoned for political reasons.
Speaking at the event will be:
* Emin Huseynov – executive director for the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety and human rights defender
* Anna Rurka – President of the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe
* Stefan Schennach – member of the PACE and co-rapporteur for Monitoring of Azerbaijan
* Arif Mammadov – former Ambassador and Head of the Permanent Representation of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe
Sponsors:
* Thomas Hammerberg – Sweden, SOC
* Jacques Maire – France, ALDE

The criminal case against the editor of the website xeberman.com Polad Aslanov was transferred to court. A preparatory hearing will be held at the Baku Serious Crimes Court, chaired by Faig Ganiyev on February 3. This was reported by the journalist’s wife Gulmira Aslanova.
Recall that the editor Polad Aslanov was detained on June 12 and arrested for 4 months on charges of Art. 274 (reason) of the Criminal Code. The investigation is conducted by the State Security Service. On October 5, the arrest period was extended by 4 months.
In December, he was charged again under Art. 134 (threat to kill or cause serious bodily harm) of the Criminal Code. Aslanov pleads not guilty and states that he is being prosecuted for critical publications about corruption in law enforcement agencies.
According to his spouse, a number of media representatives and activists gave “false testimonies” against her husband.
According to Meydan.TV, activist Dayanat Babayev was recognized as a victim in the case.
Local and international human rights organizations condemned the prosecution of Aslanov.

The National Council of Democratic Forces issued a statement condemning the use of torture by the police against PFPA Alizamin (Zamin) Salaev.
The National Council reiterates that the violation of law by the officials in the country, the transformation of law enforcement agencies into the tools of repression and punishment, is directly attributed to President Ilham Aliyev himself. The police and other government agencies by relying on the principles of Ilham Aliyev’s rule, and in some cases, on the basis of his order, commit crimes and other anti-human acts. The National Council notes that what happened to Alizamin Salayev is another example of administrative terrorism against the citizen, the next state crime. The National Council requires immediate punishment for the perpetrators.
The National Council calls on the public of the country not to remain silent on Alizamin’s abductors, to force the authorities to abandon torture policies with mass protests and demands and, in this case, to punish those who tortured him. The National Council also calls on the democratic world and international organizations with mutual commitments with Azerbaijan to take effective measures to stop the repression and torture of Ilham Aliyev’s government, including imposing sanctions against officials who have been involved in torture and repression.
Alizamin (Zamin) Salayev, an activist of the Salyan branch of the Popular Front Party, was severely tortured in the Sabail District Police Department and in the 8th branch of the same police department. He wrote in detail in his letter that he could now publicize how and under what circumstances he was brutally beaten.
It is known that A. Salayev was detained on January 13, while having lunch with his friends in the Sabail district of Baku and was later sentenced to 30 days of administrative detention by the decision of Sabail District Court, after taken to 8th branch of the Sabail District Police Department and was beaten there. By the participation of the chief the police agents wanted to humiliate him. When they were not satisfied, they knocked down him with his hands handcuffed and kicked on the ground. Then he was taken to the Sabail District Police Department where he was also subjected to more severe torture. He was first called and beaten by the chief of the department, then the chief ordered to take him to the basement and humiliate there. The police officers subjected Alizamin to humiliation and horrible torture as ordered in the basement of the department. As a result of the torture, he suffered numerous injuries, and the most dangerous is that a hernia occured in his abdominal cavity. Alizamin’s condition was too bad that the police had to take him to the hospital. Doctors said that he had a herniation in the abdomen and needed urgent surgical operation. However, the police did not allow him to be surgically operated but only first medical aid. Alizamin was then placed in an Administrative Detention Facility (Binagadi Detention Center) in such bad health conditions.
Alizamin Salayev angered the police because he defended public interest. After he informed the public about the actions of the captain Hamza Azizov, the head of the investigation department of the Salyan Police Department, the police began to put pressure on him. The captain Azizov introduced himself as a relative of Vilayat Eyvazov, the Minister of Internal Affairs and threatened him by punishment using his links to the minister if he didn’t stop his actions.
On January 13, 2020, Alizamin Salayev came to Baku to inform the Ministry of Internal Affairs about the illegal actions and threats of Captain Azizov and was arrested here, as previously described. There was no meeting with family members for several days after Alizamin was placed in detention. The reason for this is probably his obvious manifestation of torture. The National Council regrets that this is not the first case of torture against those detained in police. The Azerbaijani community receives severe torture reports, sometimes even deaths from torture several times a year. Unfortunately, the government has not taken adequate measures against this situation for years, but instead has turned the police into a tool of punishment, especially against the political opposition. This is the result of such severe torture and serious bodily injuries to public and political activists and even political leaders, such as Ali Karimli, Tofig Yagublu, and Ibrahim Ibrahimli, the members of the NC Coordination Center.
The National Council reiterates that the violation of law by the officials in the country, the transformation of law enforcement agencies into the tools of repression and punishment, is directly attributed to President Ilham Aliyev himself. The police and other government agencies by relying on the principles of Ilham Aliyev’s rule, and in some cases, on the basis of his order, commit crimes and other anti-human acts. The National Council notes that what happened to Alizamin Salayev is another example of administrative terrorism against the citizen, the next state crime. The National Council requires immediate punishment for the perpetrators.
The National Council calls on the public of the country not to remain silent on Alizamin’s abductors, to force the authorities to abandon torture policies with mass protests and demands and, in this case, to punish those who tortured him. The National Council also calls on the democratic world and international organizations with mutual commitments with Azerbaijan to take effective measures to stop the repression and torture of Ilham Aliyev’s government, including imposing sanctions against officials who have been involved in torture and repression.