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Procedure : 2017/2722(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0415/2017

Texts tabled :

B8-0415/2017

Debates :

PV 15/06/2017 - 4.1
CRE 15/06/2017 - 4.1

Votes :

PV 15/06/2017 - 7.2
CRE 15/06/2017 - 7.2

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2017)0267

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
PDF 280kWORD 52k
See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0414/2017
13.6.2017
PE605.528v01-00
 
B8-0415/2017

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law

pursuant to Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure


on the case of Afgan Mukhtarli and the situation of media in Azerbaijan


(2017/2722(RSP))

Ulrike Lunacek, Rebecca Harms, Heidi Hautala, Ignazio Corrao, Fabio Massimo Castaldo on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group
NB: This motion for a resolution is available in the original language only.

European Parliament resolution on the case of Afgan Mukhtarli and the situation of media in Azerbaijan (2017/2722(RSP))  
B8‑0415/2017

The European Parliament,

-Having regard to its previous resolutions on Azerbaijan and Georgia, particularly the ones concerning the human rights situation and the rule of law,

 

-having regard to its previous resolutions on the European Neighbourhood Policy and in particular to the ones on the Eastern Partnership,

 

-Having regard to Association Agreement with Georgia which entered into force on 1 July 2016,

 

-Having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Azerbaijan of 1996 and to the adoption by the Council on 14 November 2016 of a mandate to the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP) to negotiate a comprehensive agreement with Azerbaijan,

 

-having regard to the statement by the Spokesperson of the HR/VP on the “reported abduction and illegal detention of Azerbaijani nationals residing in Georgia”,

 

-having regard to the statement of the HR/VP on the sentencing of Mehman Huseynov in Azerbaijan of 7 March 2017,

 

-having regard to the Council conclusions on the Eastern Partnership of the Foreign Affairs Council of 14 November 2016,

 

-having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

 

A. whereas on 29 May Afgan Mukhtarli,, an exiled Azerbaijani journalist, went missing in Tbilisi after leaving his colleagues in the evening, before resurfacing the following day in Baku in the custody of Azerbaijan’s state border agency,

B. whereas according to Mukhtarli lawyer, who spoke to him in custody in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, unidentified men, two of them wearing Georgian police uniforms and speaking Georgian, stopped Mukhtarli a few blocks away from his apartment in Tbilisi, put a bag over his head, pushed him into a car, and beat him, and drove away until dropping him off at an Azerbaijani border crossing point of the Georgian Azerbaijani border after stuffing 10,000 euros into his pockets,

C. whereas on 31 May, a court in Baku sentenced him to a three months’ pre-trial detention while he is now being charged with smuggling, illegal border crossing and violence against police authority,

D. whereas Mukhtarli, an investigative journalist who has worked for several independent and opposition media outlets, including the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and Meydan TV, and his wife, Leyla Mustafayeva, also an investigative journalist, have been living in Georgia since 2015,

E. whereas Georgia is a state party to the European Convention on Human Rights and is therefore Georgia’s responsibility to guarantee the safety of Azerbaijanis living in its territory and to prevent any forced return to their country,

F. whereas the Georgian Ministry of Interior launched an investigation under Article 143 of the criminal code – unlawful imprisonment – into the case of Afgan Mukhtarli; and started cooperation with the Azerbaijani counterparts,

G. whereas in late 2015 and 2016 the Azerbaijani authorities conditionally released or pardoned a number of individuals, including several high-profile figures whose arrests and convictions had drawn vocal criticism from governments, international organizations, and nongovernmental groups; whereas, in particular, among those released were veteran human rights defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus, the human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev, human rights defenders Rasul Jafarov and human rights lawyer Anar Mammadli, and the well-known investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova,

H. whereas some of the people released continue to face travel restrictions, including Khadija Ismayilova and Intigam Aliyev,

I. whereas on 17 May the Appeals Court of Baku issued a decision ordering Sakharov Prize nominee Leyla Yunus, Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD) and a member of OMCT General Assembly, and her husband Mr. Arif Yunusov, Head of IPD Conflictology Department, to be forcibly returned to Azerbaijan from the Netherlands in order to participate in new hearings in their case,

J. whereas several journalists, bloggers, and social media activists remain imprisoned, including Mehman Huseynov, Seymur Hazi, Tofig Hasanli, Ilkin Rustemzade, Intigam Aliyev, Khadiya Ismayilova, Giyas Ibrahimov, Bayram Mammadov,

K. whereas Ilgar Mammadov, a prominent political activist, also remains in prison, despite the 2014 decision by the European Court of Human Rights finding his detention illegal; whereas the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, in charge of the implementation of the Court’s judgments, issued 10 resolutions calling for Mammadov’s immediate release,

 

L. whereas on 7 February Russian blogger Alexander Lapshin, who also holds Ukrainian and Israeli citizenships, was extradited to Azerbaijan on allegations of illegally visiting Nagorno-Karabakh, after the Supreme Court in Belarus decided to send him to Baku,

 

M. whereas on 12 May, the Sabail district court in Baku decided that five online media outlets shall be permanently blocked, following a request of the Ministry of Transport, Communications, and High Technology; whereas the decision concerns Azadliq, Meydan TV, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's (RFE/RL) Azerbaijani Service and two other internet TV programs,

 

N. whereas on 7 February 2017 the EU and Azerbaijan launched the negotiations of a new agreement that will follow the principles endorsed in the 2015 review of the European neighbourhood policy and offer a renewed basis for political dialogue and mutually beneficial cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan,

 

1. Condemns the kidnapping of Afgan Mukhtarli in Georgia and his illegal transfer to Azerbaijan;

 

2. Urges the Georgian authorities to ensure a prompt, thorough, transparent and effective investigation into Mukhtarli’s disappearance in Georgia and possible illegal transfer to Azerbaijan, as well as allegations of ill-treatment and bring all the perpetrators to justice; also urges Azerbaijan to launch a similar investigation;

 

3. Reminds Azerbaijan and Georgia of their obligations stemming from the European Convention on Human Rights and urges the government of Georgia to continue to ensure protection for Mukhtarli’s family in Georgia as well as for other exiles;

 

4. Urges Azerbaijan to drop charges against Mukhtarli, release him and allow him to rejoin his family in Georgia; calls, in this respect, on the Georgian authorities to take all the necessary steps by the Azerbaijani authorities for this to happen;

 

5. Welcomes the releases in Azerbaijan of several high-profile human rights defenders, journalists, and activists in 2015 and 2016, and calls on the authorities to unconditionally release all others in jail for exercising their fundamental rights, including Ilgar Mammadov and Mehman Huseynov; calls, furthermore, on the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure free movement of those that face travel restrictions including Intigam Alyiyev, Khadija Ismaiylova, and other journalists, and allow them to work freely;

 

6. Urges the government of Azerbaijan to fully cooperate with and implement the recommendations of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission and Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN special procedures in regard to human rights defenders, the rights of freedom of association and peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and arbitrary detention, with the aim of amending its legislation and adapting its practices in full conformity with the conclusions of the experts;

 

7. Urges the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure that independent civil society groups and activists can operate freely and without restrictions, including by amending the laws severely restricting the funding of civil society, unfreezing bank accounts of non-governmental groups and their leaders, and allowing access to foreign funding;

 

8. Calls on Azerbaijan to fully respect freedom of the press and media, both in legislation and in practice and both online and offline, to guarantee freedom of expression in line with international standards and to end censorship of criticism of the government via media outlets;

 

9. Underlines the importance of the new agreement between the European Union and Azerbaijan; stresses that democratic reforms, the rule of law and the respect for human rights must be at the core of the new agreement; reiterates its view that the pace of the negotiations for a new partnership agreement should go hand in hand with concrete progress in the field of fundamental rights;

10. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the EEAS and the Commission, to the President, the government and the parliament of Georgia, to the President and the parliament of Azerbaijan and to the Council of Europe.

 

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