Yesterday Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg unveiled his report on human rights in Azerbaijan.
According to a press release from the Council of Europe, several shortcomings were noted by Hammarberg, including the treatment of prisoners, use of torture, and politically motivated arrest of journalists and opposition members. One of the ways Hammarberg has suggested to rectify these problems is to provide more training for police.
Regarding specifically the media sphere, the Council of Europe reports that “Access to information remains a structural problem. The Commissioner welcomes the recent presidential pardon for several journalists, but regrets that it was limited in scope. He recommends that defamation be decriminalised.“
Hammarberg made a fact-finding trip to Azerbaijan in September 2007, during which he met with government officials and members of Azerbaijan’s civil society. He also met with imprisoned journalist Eynulla Fatullayev, while a member of his delegation visited imprisoned journalist Faramez Allahveridyev. Allahverdiyev was later released through a presidential pardon, however Fatullayev remains in prison.