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On November 11-12, the UN Committee against Torture held hearings on Azerbaijan. Questions were addressed to the government regarding torture of human rights defenders and journalists in jails. On November 12, the Azerbaijani authorities replaced the prison sentence of human rights defender Arif Yunus with house arrest, which was welcomed by the US, European Union and OSCE. However, similar humaneness was not shown to his wife Leyla Yunus, who remains seriously ill.
Aside from this political maneuver, no other steps were taken to improve the human rights situation. On the contrary, political parties have been targeted by the authorities: APFP’s registration documents were rejected by the Ministry of Justice, and APFP member Mammad Ibrahim’s detention period has been extended, and he now faces an additional, more serious charge.
The family members of political party representatives have also been targeted; court proceedings continue on the criminal case against Gunel Hasanli, the daughter of Jamil Hasanli, who gained public support when he ran against President Ilham Aliyev in the 2013 Presidential Elections.
This week also saw a number of interesting developments within the government. Another minister, the Minister of Communication and Information Technologies was dismissed from his post by the president; a criminal case has been launched and several employees of the ministry have been arrested. The prosecutor general’s office issued a statement announcing that corrupt activities had been committed with the aim of misappropriating state property.
This current purge targets internal problems within the government; meanwhile the authorities are intensifying the crackdown on human rights, in order to avoid any potential instability.