HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH UNVEILS ANNUAL REPORT ON AZERBAIJAN

February 2nd, 2008
Human Rights Watch has unveiled its annual report on Azerbaijan.

According to Human Rights Watch, “The government continues to use defamation and other criminal charges to intimidate independent and opposition journalists, some of whom have also been assaulted by unknown men. Media freedoms rapidly deteriorated in 2007, with at least ten journalists imprisoned. High-profile government officials, businessmen, and opposition politicians remain in custody, and politically-motivated arrests and trials, torture in police custody, and conditions of detention remain unresolved problems. Less than a year ahead of major presidential elections in Azerbaijan, the ground is set for an unfair presidential campaign.”
Media Freedom is one the main areas focused on in the report. The numerous lawsuits against journalists and unresolved attacks against mass media representatives are cited, as are the cases of imprisoned journalists Eynulla Fatullayev, Mushfig Huseynov, Sakit Zahidov and Ganimat Zahid, and formally imprisoned journalists Rafig Tagi, Samir Sadagetoglu, Rovshan Kebirli, Yashar Agazadeh and Faramez Allahverdiyev.
Human Rights Watch also notes the increasing pressure on human rights organizations and their staffs, noting incidents of harassment against the Institute for Peace and Democracy and the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety. Other sections of the report include “Torture and Inhumane Treatment, and “Politically-motivated Arrests and Convictions,” and “Key International Actors.” 
To view this report in its entirety, go to: http://hrw.org/englishwr2k8/docs/2008/01/31/azerba17742.htm .
For more information on the report contact:
Giorgi Gogia, Researcher
Europe and Central Asia Division
Human Rights Watch
Tel./Fax:       +995-32 22 11 92
Cell:              +995 77 42 12 35
Email: gogiag@hrw.org