Azerbaijan: PACE rapporteurs concerned about the state of health of activist Saleh Rustamov

The rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Azerbaijan, Stefan Schennach (Austria, SOC) and Richard Bacon (United Kingdom, EC/DA) have expressed their serious concern about the state of health of Saleh Rustamov, activist of the Azerbaijani Popular Front Party (APFP) sentenced to 7 years and 3 months in prison in 2018 following the trial considered by human rights activists as unfair and based on unfounded grounds. They were informed that Mr Rustamov who had been on hunger strike for many days was placed in a solitary confinement and not provided with quality medical assistance.

“Mr Rustamov`s case is one of many examples of the lack of independence of the justice illustrated by a long-standing pattern of repression of the government’s critics which is a major concern in Azerbaijan,” the rapporteurs said. “The judgements of the European Court of Human Rights have confirmed the existence of the ‘structural problem’ in this respect by finding violations of the European Convention on Human Rights arising from arbitrary arrest and detention of government`s opponents often combined with violation of freedom of expression and assembly. Opposition politicians, human rights defenders, independent journalists continue to be harassed and reports of torture and other ill-treatment of government critics in detention remain widespread,” they added.

“Referring to the Assembly`s recent Resolution 2322 (2020) on Reported cases of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, we call on the Azerbaijani authorities to review the cases of all alleged political prisoners. In particular, we urge them to immediately release Mr Rustamov on humanitarian grounds pending an independent and fair revision of his trial”.- they concluded.

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