June 24th, 2008

The Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) convened today (24 June) within the framework of its summer session.

According to PACE’s official internet site, PACE is deeply concerned about the deterioration of human rights in Azerbaijan in the run-up to the elections. In a resolution about Azerbaijan approved today, it is noted that, “The Assembly said restrictions on freedom of expression – including harassment and intimidation of opposition journalists – and limits on freedom of assembly and association were ‘inadmissible in a Council of Europe member state,’ and declared that the issue of political prisoners had not been resolved.” In the resolution the release of three imprisoned journalists is also demanded.

According to “Radio Liberty”, PACE Monitoring Committee co-rapporteur on Azerbaijan Andreas Herkel made a speech during the discussions today. “The major issues concerning us in Azerbaijan are the situation of human rights and democratization.  Unfortunately, the situation of human rights is worse; especially in the areas of speech freedom, press freedom and journalism.”
Herkel emphasized that a lot of problems linger in Azerbaijan with regards to its fulfillment of international commitments.

Aydin Mirzazade, who is one of Azerbaijan’s representatives as PACE, told “Trend” News Agency that the government will discuss the demand to release Azerbaijan’s political prisoners which was expressed in the resolution adopted today. He said, “This issue has the character of a recommendation. The government of Azerbaijan will discuss the issues of fulfilling the recommendation and releasing these people early.”