Letters and appeals


Bernard Ecclestone
Chief Executive
Formula One Group
6 Princes Gate
London SW7 1QJ
17 May 2016

Dear Mr Ecclestone,

We, the undersigned members of the Sport for Rights coalition, are writing to you in advance of the Baku European Grand Prix in June to provide details on Azerbaijan’s deeply troubling human rights record and steps that we believe Formula One Group can take to ensure its compliance with its human rights responsibilities.

Sport for Rights is a coalition of international non-governmental organisations working together to promote human rights in Azerbaijan. As Azerbaijan hosts and bids to host international sporting events, with the media spotlight, prestige, and reputational boost that those events can bring to a host country, we are consistently calling on international sporting organisations and others to take meaningful action consistent with their human rights responsibilities as well as use the opportunity of sporting events to press for better human rights protections. » » » »



We are a nongovernmental organization with a longstanding interest in improving the serious freedom of expression situation in Azerbaijan. We write ahead of World Press Freedom Day to call on your government to demand the immediate and unconditional release of the 2016 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize winner, journalist Khadija Ismayilova in Azerbaijan.

Khadija Ismayilova was a pioneer in exposing large-scale corruption connected to the ruling family in Azerbaijan.

It is precisely for her groundbreaking reporting that Ismayilova has been languishing behind bars since December 2014. In September 2015, she was sentenced to prison for seven and a half years on charges of tax evasion and illegal business activities.

Prior to her arrest in December 2014, Khadija Ismayilova, together with journalists from Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), exposed the large-scale illegal enrichment schemes employed by Azerbaijan’s ruling family, namely the use of offshore companies registered in Panama. » » » »

To: Mr. José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission

Mr. Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council

Copy to: Delegation of the European Union to Azerbaijan

President Barroso and President Van Rompuy,

In advance of your meeting with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Brussels, we would like to share our concerns regarding the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, and to ask you to support us in addressing these problems. » » » »