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Procedure : 2017/2722(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0417/2017

Texts tabled :

B8-0417/2017

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 157kWORD 53k
See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0414/2017
13.6.2017
PE605.530v01-00
 
B8-0417/2017

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 situation of media in Azerbaijan (2017/2722(RSP))


Petras Auštrevičius, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Johannes Cornelis van Baalen, Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Dita Charanzová, Gérard Deprez, María Teresa Giménez Barbat, Martina Dlabajová, Marian Harkin, Ivan Jakovčić, Louis Michel, Javier Nart, Urmas Paet, Maite Pagazaurtundúa Ruiz, Jozo Radoš, Frédérique Ries, Marietje Schaake, Jasenko Selimovic, Pavel Telička, Paavo Väyrynen, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, Cecilia Wikström, Valentinas Mazuronis on behalf of the ALDE Group
NB: This motion for a resolution is available in the original language only.

European Parliament resolution on the case of Afgan Mukhtarli and situation of media in Azerbaijan (2017/2722(RSP))  
B8‑0417/2017

The European Parliament,

-having regard to its previous resolutions on Azerbaijan, in particular those concerning the human rights situation and the rule of law,

 

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

 

-having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Azerbaijan of 1996 and to the adoption by the Council on 14 November 2016 of a mandate to the European Commission and the HR/VP for CFSP to negotiate a comprehensive agreement with Azerbaijan,

 

-having regard to the EU-Azerbaijan ENP Action Plan,

 

-having regard to the final statement and recommendations set forth by fourteenth meeting of the EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, from 2 to 3 May 2017,

 

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

 

-having regard to the Statement of 4 June 2017 by the Spokesperson of HR/VP for CFSP on the reported abduction and illegal detention of Azerbaijani nationals residing in Georgia,

 

-having regard to Rules 135(5) and 124(4) of its Rules of Procedure;

 

A. whereas on 30 May 2017 Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli was arrested by the State Border Service of Azerbaijan after allegedly attempting to illegally enter the country from Georgia,

 

B. whereas on 31 May a court in Baku ordered Afgan Mukhtarli be detained for three months and he is now being charged for illegal border crossing, smuggling and violence against the police;

 

C. whereas Mr Mukhtarli denies these charges, and is appealing the court’s ruling; whereas Mr Mukhtarli asserts that he was abducted from Tbilisi by unidentified men wearing Georgian police uniforms and speaking Georgian, ill-treated and handed over to Azerbaijani authorities, who then staged the trespassing incident, stuffing 10,000 euro into his pockets and photographing him;

 

D. whereas Afgan 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 the prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, enshrined in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Georgia is a state party, obliges each country not to expel, extradite or deport an individual to a state, where he or she faces a real risk of being subjected to this type of treatment;

 

F. whereas on May 31 the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia said in its statement that an investigation had been launched under Article 143 of the Criminal Code - unlawful imprisonment - into the case of Afgan Mukhtarli, and communication with the Azerbaijani counterparts was being undertaken;

 

G. whereas in 2015 and 2016 the Azerbaijani authorities conditionally released or pardoned at least 16 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 and political prisoners Leyla and Arif Yunus, the human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev, human rights defenders Rasul Jafarov and Anar Mammadli, and the well-known investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova;

 

H. whereas a number of journalists, bloggers, and social media activists remain imprisoned or in detention, including Mehman Huseynov, Seymur Hazi, Djavit Shiraliyev, Afgan Sadygov, Elchin Ismailli, Aziz Orujov, Rashad Ramazanov, Nijat Aliyev, Tofig Hasanli, Araz Guliyev, Fikrat Faramazoglu, Abdul Abilov, Elchin Hasanov, Omar Mammadov, Faig Amirov and Nijat Amiraslanov;

 

I. 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 Mr Mammadov’s immediate release,

 

J. whereas on 17 May the Baku Court of Appeals ordered that Leyla and Arif Yunus, who have been granted a political asylum in the Netherlands, be returned to Azerbaijan for renewed court hearings;

 

K. whereas some of journalists and human rights activists face travel bans, including Intigam Aliyev and Khadija Ismayilova;

 

L. whereas Freedom House considers the press in Azerbaijan “not free” and its internet “partially free“ in Freedom of the World 2017; whereas recent legislation in Azerbaijan provides for tighter Internet regulations and authorises the government, subject to judicial review, to ban sites for posting content deemed to promote violence, hatred, or extremism, violate privacy or constitute slander;

 

M. whereas on 12 May, following a request of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies, the Sabail district court upheld the decision to block five online media outlets, including Azerbaijani Service of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's (RFE/RL), Azadliq.info, Meydan TV and satellite TV channels Turan TV and Azerbaijani Saadi;

 

N. whereas on 7 February 2017 the EU and Azerbaijan launched negotiations on a new comprehensive agreement, which signals a new impetus in the development of the bilateral relations and is ought to replace the PCA of 1996;

 

1. Condemns the detention of Afgan Mukhtarli and urges the Azerbaijani government to immediately drop charges against him, release him and allow him to re-join his family in Georgia;

 

2. Welcomes the opening of the investigation into the Afgan Mukhtarli’s case by the Georgian authorities; urges the Georgian authorities to ensure a prompt, thorough, transparent and effective investigation into the Afgan Mukhtarli’s disappearance in Georgia, alleged illegal transfer to Azerbaijan and involvement of Georgian law enforcement authorities, as well as allegations of ill-treatment; expects that this investigation will bring all the perpetrators to justice and that any public servant implicated in such grave violations of international law will be held accountable; calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to fully cooperate with the Georgian counterparts during the investigation;

 

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

 

4. Is concerned over the human rights situation in Azerbaijan; calls, in particular, for a review in Azerbaijan of all cases of incarceration related to the exercise of fundamental rights, particularly the freedom of expression and the immediate release of all those concerned, including Ilgar Mammadov, Mehman Huseynov, Seymur Hazi, Djavit Shiraliyev, Afgan Sadygov, Elchin Ismailli, Aziz Orujov, Rashad Ramazanov, Nijat Aliyev, Tofig Hasanli, Araz Guliyev, Fikrat Faramazoglu, Abdul Abilov, Elchin Hasanov, Omar Mammadov, Faig Amirov and Nijat Amiraslanov;

 

5. Is particularly alarmed about the human rights defenders’ reports on cases of physical violence and torture against the civil society activists and journalists while in custody;

 

6. Calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to discontinue the ongoing persecution of Leyla and Arif Yunus and draws attention of Interpol to this case as motivated on political grounds;

 

7. Calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to lift the travel bans applied to Intigam Aliyev, Khadija Ismayilova and others;

 

8. Reminds Azerbaijan of its commitments to the upkeep of fundamental human rights as a member of the Council of Europe; reiterates once again its call on the Azerbaijani authorities to comply with all rulings of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR);

 

9. 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;

 

10. Is concerned over the ongoing repressions against free and independent media in Azerbaijan and calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to respect media freedom, both in legislation and in practice and both online and offline media, to guarantee freedom of expression in line with international standards and to end censorship of criticism of the government via media outlets;

 

11. Underlines the importance of a good political climate between the government, opposition forces, and civil society at large; reiterates that the civil society has a vital role to play in developing the democracy, stability and prosperity of Azerbaijan and strongly urges Azerbaijan to reassess its policy towards independent civil society with a view to facilitating an open and inclusive national discourse in line with international standards;

 

12. Urges the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure that independent civil society groups and activists can operate without undue hindrance or fear of persecution, including by repealing the laws restricting civil society activities, unfreezing bank accounts of non-governmental groups and their leaders, and allowing access to foreign funding;

 

13. Welcomes the launch of the negotiations on the new comprehensive agreement emphasizing on its strategic importance for the EU and Azerbaijan 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; 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 be strongly conditional to the progress Azerbaijan makes in respecting fundamental rights;

 

14. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the European External Action Service, the Commission, the President, Government and Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the President, Government and Parliament of Georgia, the Council of Europe, and the OSCE.

 

Legal notice