News Feed

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 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
* Thomas Hammerberg – Sweden, SOC
* Jacques Maire – France, ALDE

The criminal case against the editor of the website 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.

The imprisoned editor of the website, Ikram Rahimov, complained of violations of his rights in jail No. 10.

According to his relatives, on December 28 Rahimov began a hunger strike in protest against his transfer from jail No. 6 to penal institution No. 10, stopped ten days later due to a sharp deterioration in his health.

“The pressure on Ikram continues. He has not been allowed to call home for the past week, although by law he has the right to communicate by telephone for 15 minutes twice a week. In addition, over the past week he was twice refused a meeting with visitors. Today, colleagues went to him, but they were also refused a meeting. We are worried about this, perhaps Ikram is also under pressure,” relatives of the journalist said.

It has not yet been possible to get comments from the Prison Service.

Rahimov was arrested in October 2018 after the publication of an open letter criticizing Ali Hasanov, the then assistant to the head of state.

On June 12, 2018, he was sentenced to 5.5 years in prison. In protest, he began a hunger strike, which he stopped on the 30th day – September 5.

On September 18, the Court of Appeal confirmed Rahimov’s guilt of extortion by means of threats, but by applying the Article 62 of the Criminal Code (the imposition of a lower sentence prescribed by law); the prison term was reduced to three years.

A number of international journalistic organizations condemned the conviction of Rahimov.

IRFS considers the arrest of Ikram Rahimov an illegal politically motivated prosecution of a journalist for his criticism of senior officials and calls on the Azerbaijani government to release him immediately.

Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) condemns the Azerbaijani authorities for the politically motivated arrests of journalists Ikram Rahimov and Polad Aslanov and calls on the authorities to stop putting pressure on freedom of speech and release all imprisoned for their professional activities of the media.

The IRFS is seriously concerned that the State Security Service of Azerbaijan is directly involved in the arrest of Editor-in-chief of the website Ikram Rahimov, and sentencing him to 5.5 years in prison on trumped-up charges of “Extortion by threats” (Article 182 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan) as well as detention on the dubious accusations of “High Treason” (Article 274 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan) chief editor and founder of the and sites Polad Aslanov.

“The fact that the leading secret service of Azerbaijan arrests a journalist on clearly fabricated charges of petty extortion raises many questions. Serious suspicions on the part of civil society are caused by the fact that the service, which must lead the fight against terror and other serious crimes aimed against state security, is involved in arresting a journalist of clearly alien competence, failing to even prove his guilt, ”the Executive Director of the IRFS Emin Husenyov.
Even greater questions are raised by the fact that on the day of the announcement of the verdict to Ikram Rahimov on June 12, 2019, the State Security Service conducts another “valiant operation” and detains journalist Polad Aslanov on fabricated, but already with a more serious accusation – of high treason.

It is obvious that the secret services of Azerbaijan, in order to intimidate the journalistic community, using the example of Ikram Rahimov and Polad Aslanov, show all media representatives that they can arrest any of them, accusing them of petty extortion to treason.
“Against the background of the tense social economic and political situation in the country, the authorities of Azerbaijan will continue and intensify attacks on unwanted media representatives by prior discrediting and further arrest using the old proven principle – there is no sense to put a journalist without spoiling his reputation before that,” Huseynov summed up.

The IRFS called cynical the latest statement by the Azerbaijani authorities about the start of a new course of political reforms against the background of increasing criminal defamation and other trumped-up accusations against media representatives.

IRFS is sure that the stated reform course is nothing more than intentional decoration of the authorities aimed at misleading the international community on the eve of signing the agreement on “strategic cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan”, which will allow the authorities of Azerbaijan to facilitate access to European and Western financial instruments.

IRFS calls on authorities to immediately release from all detained and arrested journalists, including Afgan Mukhtarly, Seymour Hezi, Elchin Ismayilli, Zia Asadli, Araz Guliyev, Ikram Rahimov and Polad Aslanov.

The IRFS calls on Azerbaijan’s western partners to closely monitor the situation and condemn new attacks by the authorities against freedom of expression, as well as support the Azerbaijani human rights community, which lately due to a lack of institutional resources is unable to respond promptly to the increasing attacks against media representatives.

June 20, 2019

Институт свободы и безопасности и репортеров осуждает власти Азербайджана за политически мотивированные аресты журналистов Икрама Рагимова и Полада Асланова и призывает власти прекратить давление на свободу слова, освободить всех находящихся в заключении за свою профессиональную деятельность представителей СМИ.

ИСБР серьезно обеспокоен тем, что Государственная Службы Безопасности Азербайджана напрямую причастна к аресту и приговору к 5,5 годам тюремного заключения по сфабрикованным обвинениям в «Вымогательстве путем угроз» (статья 182 Уголовного Кодекса Азербайджана) главного редактора сайта Икрама Рагимова, а также задержанием по сомнительным обвинениям в «Государственной измене» (статья 274 Уголовного Кодекса Азербайджана) главного редактора и учредителя сайтов и Полада Асланова.

«Тот факт, что ведущая спецслужба Азербайджана арестовывает журналиста по явно сфабрикованном обвинениям в мелком вымогательстве вызывает много вопросов почему министерство которое должно вести борьбу с террором и другими серьезными преступлениями нацеленными против госбезопасности вовлекается в арест журналиста по явно чуждой ей компетенции, вызывает серьезные подозрения со стороны гражданского общества», отмечает исполнительный директор ИСБР Эмин Гусейнов . Ещё большие вопросы вызывает тот факт, что в день оглашения приговора Икраму Рагимову 12 июня 2019 года СНБ проводит очередную «доблестную операцию» и задерживает журналиста Полада Асланова по сфабрикованным, но уже более тяжким обвинениям в государственной измене. Очевиден тот факт, что спецслужбы Азербайджана с целью устрашения журналистского сообщества на примере Икрама Рагимова и Полада Асланова показывают всем представителям СМИ, что могут арестовать любого из них обвинив от мелкого вымогательстве до государственной измены.
«На фоне напряженной социальной экономической и политической обстановки в стране власти Азербайджана продолжат и усилят атаки на неугодных представителей СМИ путем предварительной дискредитации и дальнейшего ареста, используя старый проверенный принцип, нет смысла сажать журналиста не испортив перед этим его репутацию» – подытожил Гусейнов.

ИСБР считает циничными последние заявлении властей Азербайджана о начале нового курса политических реформ на фоне увеличения криминально диффамационных и прочих сфабрикованных обвинений против представителей СМИ.

ИСБР уверен, что заявленный курс реформ является не чем иным, как преднамеренной декорацией властей нацеленный на заблуждение международного сообщества в преддверии подписания договора «о стратегическом сотрудничестве между ЕС и Азербайджаном», который позволит властям Азербайджана облегчить доступ к европейским и западным финансовым инструментам.
ИСБР призывает власти немедленно освободить всех задержанных и арестованных журналистов, включая Афгана Мухтарлы, Сеймура Хези, Эльчина Исмаиллы, Зию Асадли, Араза Гулиева, Икрама Рагимова и Полада Асланова.

ИСБР призывает западных партнеров Азербайджана пристально отслеживать ситуацию и принципиально осудить новые нападки властей против свободы выражения, а также поддержать азербайджанское правозащитное сообщество, которое в последнее время из за нехватки институциональных ресурсов не может своевременно реагировать на участившиеся нападки против представителей СМИ.

The future of Council of Europe: zero corruption, boosted human rights and democracy

Thursday | 11 April 2019 | 13:00-14:00

Venue: Room 14, Palais de L’Europe

These recent years a number of corruption scandals have shaken the Council of Europe. Authoritarian governments of various countries bribed members of the Parliamentary Assembly in exchange for their loyalty and their silence about the problems linked to violations of human rights, democracy and corruption.

A striking example of this are the actions of the government of Azerbaijan, a country rich in petrol and gas which, by bribing politicians, succeeded in changing the order of the Council of Europe in favour of Ilham Aliyev’s kleptocratic regime.

Scandals such as the Caviar Diplomacy and the Azerbaijani Laundromat received worldwide attention and led to an investigation initiated by the Secretary General of the European Council. Notwithstanding the thorough work carried out, which brought serious shortcomings to light, it will be the responsibility of the future Secretary General to continue the fight to ensure the complete eradication of corruption in the Council of Europe.

Both candidates to the post of Secretary General, Didier Reynders, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium and Marija Pejčinović Burić, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia, recently chaired the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.

Should they be chosen, how would they strengthen the values of the Council of Europe in order to benefit the citizens of all 47 member states? How would they stop any country to undermine the standards and principles of this organization? How could they improve the collaboration between all the institutions of the Council of Europe to better combat corruption? Which reforms will be proposed to strengthen the financial autonomy of the Council of Europe to prevent kleptocratic regimes from manipulating the Council of Europe?

We invite you to reflect with us on these important questions during the event, because we should be sure that the future of the Council of Europe will be based on zero corruption, strengthened human rights and democracy.

Sponsored by PACE members:

Mr. Maurizio Buccarella (Italy)


Mr. Pieter Omtzigt (Netherlands)

Organised by IRFS


Emin Huseynov, Co-founder, Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety

Dr. Violeta Moskalu, Head of Board, Global Ukraine Foundation

Ana Ursachi, Human Rights Lawyer


Paola Gaffurini, Open Dialog Foundation

Thursday | 11 April 2019 | 13:00-14:00

Venue: Room 14, Palais de L’Europe

contact: | +41788788428

L’Institut pour la Liberté et Sécurité des Journalistes (Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, IRFS) vous invite cordialement à l’événement « Le futur du Conseil de l’Europe: zéro corruption, renforcement des droits de l’homme et de la démocratie »

Jeudi | 11 Avril 2019 | 13:00-14:00

Adresse: Salle 14, Palais de L’Europe

Ces dernières années, plusieurs scandales de corruption ont secoué le Conseil de l’Europe. Des gouvernements autoritaires de divers pays ont corrompu des membres de l’Assemblée parlementaire en échange de leur loyauté et de leur silence sur les problèmes liés aux violations des droits de l’homme, à la démocratie et à la corruption.

Un exemple frappant, c’est celui du gouvernement de l’Azerbaïdjan, un pays riche en pétrole et en gaz, qui, en soudoyant des politiciens, ont réussi à modifier l’ordre du Conseil de l’Europe en faveur du régime kleptocratique d’Ilham Aliyev.

Des scandales tels que la « Diplomatie de Caviar » et le laundromat azerbaïdjanais ont retenu l’attention du monde entier et ont conduit à une enquête ouverte par le Secrétaire général du Conseil européen. Malgré les travaux approfondis menés qui ont mis en lumière de graves lacunes, le futur Secrétaire Général aura la responsabilité de poursuivre la lutte en vue de l’éradication complète de la corruption au Conseil de l’Europe.

Les deux candidats au poste de secrétaire général, Didier Reynders, Ministre des Affaires étrangères de Belgique et Marija Pejčinović Burić, Ministre des Affaires étrangères et européennes de Croatie, ont récemment présidé le Comité des ministres du Conseil de l’Europe.

Si ils étaient choisis, comment pourraient-ils renforcer les valeurs du Conseil de l’Europe aux bénéfice des citoyens des 47 Etats membres? Comment vont – ils empêcher les différents pays de saper les normes et les principes de cette organisation ? Comment pourraient-ils améliorer la collaboration entre toutes les institutions du Conseil de l’Europe pour mieux lutter contre la corruption? Quelles réformes seront proposées pour renforcer l’autonomie financière du Conseil de l’Europe afin d’empêcher les régimes kleptocratiques de manipuler le Conseil de l’Europe?

Nous vous invitons à réfléchir avec nous sur ces questions importantes pendant l’événement, car l’avenir du Conseil de l’Europe doit être construit sur les principes de zéro corruption, le renforcement des droits de l’homme et la démocratie.

Sponsored by les members de l’APCE:

Mr. Maurizio Buccarella (Italie))


Mr. Pieter Omtzigt (Pays-Bas)

Organisé par l’IRFS


Emin Huseynov, Co-fondateur, Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety

Dr. Violeta Moskalu, Présidente du Conseil d’Administration, Global Ukraine Foundation

Ana Ursachi, Avocat des droits de l’homme


Paola Gaffurini, Open Dialog Foundation

Jeudi | 11 Avril 2019 | 13:00-14:00

Adresse: Salle 14, Palais de L’Europe

contact: | +41788788428

Институт Свободы и Безопасности Репортеров осуждает власти Азербайджана за сегодняшнее полицейское насилие против журналистов, а также участниц акции протеста против бытового насилия над женщинами, и призвает наказать сотрудников правохранительных органов и провокаторов, допустивших применение грубой силы против представителей СМИ и участников мирного протеста. » » » »