The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) calls for the immediate release of journalist Parviz Hashimli who has been found guilty today for illegal possession and trafficking of firearms.
The Baku Court on Grave Crimes today sentenced Bizim Yol newspaper journalist and moderator.az website editor Parviz Hashimli to 8 years in prison based on fabricated charges of arms smuggling and possession that have not been proven during trial.
IRFS stresses that handing down such a severe sentence to the journalist on political grounds day after Azerbaijan assumed chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe omens that Azerbaijani government will fail to respect human rights in chairmanship period.
The organization reminds that the journalist’s illegal pre-trial detention at National Security Ministry’s custody, alleged torture, denial of a meeting with family for a long time, violation of the right of defense and coercion to give a statement constitute a blatant violation of the right to defense, liberty and prohibition of torture provided by local and international legislation.
IRFS’s consistent monitoring of the journalist’s trial, where the court did not grant defense motions to question additional witnesses and obtain other evidence, points to non-objectivity of the trial.
The conviction of journalist Hashimli continues an alarming trend in Azerbaijan, where the government has repeatedly prosecuted journalists and other members of civil society under the bogus charges. Right now, there are at least 10 journalists and bloggers are languishing behind bars on trumped up charges.
IRFS calls on the government to respect the freedom of expression, to put an end to repressions against dissent and to fulfill its international obligations.
IRFS further calls on the international organizations to take real steps to deter the Azerbaijani authorities from suppressing the freedom of press and expression.