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Procedure : 2015/2840(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : B8-0864/2015

Texts tabled :

B8-0864/2015

Debates :

PV 10/09/2015 - 5.3
CRE 10/09/2015 - 5.3

Votes :

PV 10/09/2015 - 8.3
CRE 10/09/2015 - 8.3

Texts adopted :

P8_TA(2015)0316

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION
PDF 187kWORD 85k
See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0856/2015
8.9.2015
PE565.832v01-00
 
B8-0864/2015

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 Azerbaijan (2015/2840(RSP))


Marietje Schaake, Frédérique Ries, Marielle de Sarnez, Ramon Tremosa i Balcells, Pavel Telička, Manfred Weber, Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, Petras Auštrevičius, Juan Carlos Girauta Vidal, Martina Dlabajová, Valentinas Mazuronis, Beatriz Becerra Basterrechea, Nedzhmi Ali, Gérard Deprez, Fredrick Federley, Nathalie Griesbeck, Ivan Jakovčić, Petr Ježek, Kaja Kallas, Louis Michel, Javier Nart, Urmas Paet, Maite Pagazaurtundúa Ruiz, Jozo Radoš

on behalf of the ALDE Group

NB: This motion for a resolution is available in the original language only.

European Parliament resolution on Azerbaijan (2015/2840(RSP))  
B8‑0864/2015

The European Parliament,

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

 

- having regard to the established relationship between the EU and Azerbaijan, which took effect in 1999, as represented by the implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) Action Plan, the creation of the Eastern Partnership (EaP), the negotiations on the EU-Azerbaijan association agreement and Azerbaijan's participation in the EURONEST Parliamentary Assembly,

 

- having regard to the 2014 ENP country progress report on Azerbaijan of 25 March 2015 (SWD(2015)64),

 

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

 

- having regard to the statement of 2 September 2015 of High Representative/Vice-President of the Commission Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn on the sentencing of Khadija Ismayilova,

 

- having regard to the statement of 1 September 2015 of Isabel Santos, the Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions on the immediate release of Azerbaijani investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova,

 

- having regard to the statement of 1 September 2015 of Secretary-General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland on the verdict in the case of Khadija Ismayilova,

 

- having regard to the EU statement of 19 August 2015 on human rights in Azerbaijan at the OSCE Special Permanent Council meeting No 1064 in Vienna,

 

- having regard to the statement of 14 August 2015 of High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini on the sentencing of Leyla and Arif Yunus, prominent Human Rights Defenders in Azerbaijan,

 

- having regard to the statement of 14 August 2015 of Secretary-General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland on the verdict in the cases of Leyla Yunus, director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy in Azerbaijan, and her husband, Arif Yunus,

 

- having regard to the statement of 10 August 2015 of the Spokesperson of High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini on the death of Azeri journalist Rasim Aliyev,

 

- having regard to Statement by the Spokesperson of the HR/VP of 24 April 2015 on the sentencing of Mr Intigam Aliyev, a prominent Human Rights Lawyer in Azerbaijan,

 

- having regard to the statement by the Spokesperson of the HR/VP of 16 April 2015 on the sentencing of Rasul Jafarov, a prominent Human Rights Defender in Azerbaijan,

 

- having regard to the statement of 10 August 2015 of Secretary-General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland concerning the murder of Azerbaijani journalist Rasim Aliyev,

 

- having regard to the Helsinki Declaration adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly at its annual session between 5 July and 9 July 2015 which "condemn[ed] the continued persecution and imprisonment on politically motivated charges of journalists and human rights defenders in several OSCE participating States and express[ed] its concern at the continued misuse of tax and administrative legislation to justify these acts”,

 

- having regard to the Resolution 2062 (2015) of 23 June 2015 adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on the functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan,

 

- having regard to the opinion of 15 December 2014 of the Council of Europe Venice Commission on the Law on Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) of the Republic of Azerbaijan,

 

- having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Right Defenders and the 23 June 2014 Council Conclusions on the 10th Anniversary of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders,

 

- having regard to the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially Article 1, Article 5 and Article 12.2 on the freedom to participate in non-profit organizations and the state's responsibility to protect individuals from violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights,

 

- having regard to Rule 135 of its Rules of Procedure,

 

 

A. whereas the overall human rights situation in Azerbaijan has deteriorated continuously over the last few years despite the adoption of the ENP Action Plan, with growing intimidation and repression of, NGOs, journalists and independent media, engendering a widespread sense of fear among opposition forces, human rights defenders and youth and social network activists and leading to systematic restrictions of fundamental rights and freedoms;

 

B. whereas reports by human rights defenders and international NGOs signal the intensification of the practice of the criminal prosecution of NGO leaders, journalists and others who express critical opinions, based on the use of trumped up charges charges in relation to their work,

 

C. whereas on 1 September the sentence of 7.5 years was handed down to the prominent journalist and contributor to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Khadija Ismayilova by an Azerbaijani Court, on charges of criminal libel, tax evasion and abuse of power, after her reporting on corruption linked to President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and members of his family; whereas the international monitors that were present during the trial raised fundamental questions on the impartiality of the court and the legality of the accusation, and the fairness of the trial,

 

D. whereas on 13 August human rights defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus were sentenced by the Baku Court for Grave Crimes to 8.5 and 7 years imprisonment respectively, on charges including fraud and tax evasion; whereas the international monitors report that the legal process was seriously flawed and charges are connected solely to the human rights work of the sentenced;

 

E. whereas the conditions of imprisonment of Leyla and Arif Ynus, and Intigam Aliyev have led to serious deterioration of their health with possibly life-threatening consequences;

 

F. whereas on 9 August Chairman of the Institute for Reporters Safety and Freedom (IRSF), journalist Rasim Aliyev died in a Baku hospital, after he was severely beaten on 8 August, allegedly by supporters of a local football player, following continuous threats and intimidation via social media networks in the aftermath of his criticism towards President Aliyev via social media,

 

G. whereas Rasim Aliyev had taken over the chairmanship of IRSF from well-known and internationally recognised human rights defender Emin Huseynov, who himself faced trumped-up charges  and sought refuge in Switzerland;

 

 

H. whereas despite continuous calls of the international community to free political prisoners, numerous prominent members of Azerbaijani civil society remain imprisoned, including Anar Mammadli, Rasul Jafarov, Intigam Aliyev, Hasan Huseynli, Rauf Mirkadirov, Ömar Mammadov, Tofiq Yaqublu and Ilgar Mammadov, and whereas the health of some of these prisoners is permanently deteriorating;

 

I. whereas Leyla Yunus and Rasul Jafarov, before they were themselves arrested, led a group of prominent Azerbaijani human rights defenders and experts that produced a list of nearly one hundred Azerbaijanis who qualify as political prisoners under the definition adopted by the Council of Europe in 2012;

 

J. whereas many more journalists and civil society activists are facing legal charges brought against them in Azerbaijan,

 

K. Whereas journalists and civil society leaders are subjected to continuous intimidation and harassment, including  journalist Emin Milli, Director of Meydan TV, who has received death threats and whose brother-in-law has been arrested based on trumped-up charges,

 

L. Whereas many journalists and civil society activists face travel bans and restrictions on their freedom of movement in relation to their human rights activities;

 

M. whereas Azerbaijan is actively participating in the ENP and the EaP, is engaged in the negotiations on an association agreement and the furthering of cooperation initiatives grounded in the EaP framework, is a founding member of EURONEST and is therefore committed to respecting democracy, human rights and the rule of law, which are core values of these initiatives,

 

N. whereas Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe and a party to the European Convention on Human Rights,

 

O. whereas Azerbaijan has not respected its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights by failing to implement the judgement of the European Court on Human Rights in the case of Ilgar Mammadov who was arrested after he had been confirmed as the REAL opposition party’s candidate for the presidential election of 9 October 2013;

                                                                                                   

P. whereas according to the Venice Commission the last amendments to the Law on Non-governmental Organizations, in an overall assessment, "further restrict the operation of NGOs in Azerbaijan",

 

Q. whereas the European Union has not been able to disburse 11 of its 13 grants to NGOs in 2014 because of this restrictive legislation and continues to face severe limitations to its ability to fund independent civil society groups and activists in Azerbaijan;

 

R. whereas the OSCE office in Baku was closed on 4 July following the Azerbaijani authorities decision to terminate the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Azerbaijan and the OSCE on the OSCE Project Coordinator in Baku,

 

S. whereas Freedom House considers Azerbijan to be ´not free´, considers its press ´not free´ and its internet ´partially free´; whereas Azerbaijan has suffered the greatest decline in democratic governance in all of Eurasia over the past 10 years;

 

T. whereas in November 2015 Azerbaijan will hold parliamentary elections,

 

 

 

1. Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all imprisoned political prisoners, human rights defenders, journalists and other civil society activists, including Khadija Ismayilova, Leyla Yunus and Arif Yunus, Anar Mammadli, Rasul Jafarov, Intigam Aliyev, Hasan Huseynli, Rauf Mirkadirov, Ömar Mammadov, Tofiq Yaqublu and Ilgar Mammadov in line with the European Court of Human Rights judgement, and calls for all charges against them to be dropped, and for full restoration of their political and civil rights and public image; calls on the Azerbaijani authorities in the meantime to enable health examination of all these political prisoners by an foreign doctor;

 

 

2. Stresses that the full respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law is at the heart of the framework for cooperation within the EaP, and of the commitments made by Azerbaijan within the Council of Europe and the OSCE;

 

3. Strongly condemns the unprecedented repression against civil society in Azerbaijan and deplores the arbitrary application of criminal legislation to limit freedom of expression in the country; calls on the Azerbaijan authorities to take the necessary measures to ensure full independence of judiciary and guarantee due process and impartiality of the courts;

 

4. Expresses serious concerns over the news of the rapidly deteriorating health condition of Leyla Yunus, Arif Yunus and Intigam Aliyev and their treatment while in prison; calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure prisoners receive the proper healthcare when needed;

 

5. Condemns the intimidation of family members of Azerbaijani activists, journalists and opposition figures;

 

6. Calls for a prompt and transparent investigation of the murder of journalist Rasim Aliyev in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal and enforce sanctions as provided by the law;

 

7. Underlines that the civil society has a vital role to play in developing the democracy, stability and prosperity of Azerbaijan and as such 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;

 

8. Reminds the authorities in Azerbaijan that the wellbeing of the population, including respect for rights and freedoms is an essential component of sustainable economic growth;

 

9. Urges the authorities to review the laws on NGOs with a view to addressing the concerns formulated by the Venice Commission and creating an environment conductive to the unhampered work of civil society and progress towards full democratization of the country;

 

10. Calls on Azerbaijani authorities to respect the freedom of the press and media, both in legislation and in practice, both online and offline, and to secure freedom of expression in line with international standards and to end censorship of criticism directed at the government via media outlets;

 

11. Underlines the importance of addressing the above mentioned issues immediately, in order to ensure that the overall climate in Azerbaijan can become conductive to political pluralism and the forthcoming parliamentary elections in November 2015 are held in a free and fair manner;

 

12. Is extremely concerned about the situation for LGBTI people in Azerbaijan; strongly condemns political hate speech against LGBTI people coming from the highest levels; calls on the Azerbaijani government to stop obstructing and intimidating human rights defenders working on the rights of LGBTI people;

 

13. Underlines the importance of serious and mutually respectful dialogue between the EU and the government of Azerbaijan, the opposition forces and the civil society; reaffirms, however, its position that the EU support to and cooperation with the Republic of Azerbaijan, including the ongoing negotiations on a Strategic Modernisation Partnership, must be conditional on and include clauses relating to the protection and promotion of human rights, especially with regard to freedom of the media, freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly;

 

14. Stresses that European Parliament consent to the signature of a partnership agreement with Azerbaijan will be conditional upon satisfactory reflection of the above-mentioned requirements, the release of human rights defenders and political prisoners, the withdrawing of legislation restricting the operations of independent civil society and an end to repression and intimidation of NGOs, independent media, opposition forces, human rights defenders, youth and social network activists;

 

15. Calls on the Commission to review and suspend temporarily if needed, all funding not related with human rights, civil society and grassroots level people to people cooperation, granted to Azerbaijan through the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument in light of the above mentioned incidents of human rights defenders targeted for documenting human rights violations in Azerbaijan; calls on the European Commission and EU member states to maintain funding for people to people contacts and cooperation such as civil society, education and academia as well as youth and student exchange;

 

16. Calls on the EU and its member states to offer strong political support to independent organizations and raise the issue directly in any and all contacts with the Azerbaijani authorities at the highest level with the government of Azerbaijan to seek an end to these repressive measures call for the release of political prisoners;

 

17. Recalls its position from 17 September 2014 and calls on the Council to consider the possibility of targeted sanctions against those responsible for human rights violations,

 

18. Calls on the Azerbaijan authorities to reverse the decision to close the OSCE office in Baku and cooperate fully with this organisation;

 

19. Notes that elections in Azerbaijan have a record of not being free and fair according to OSCE/ODIHR election observation missions,

 

20. Is concerned that conditions are not in place for a free and fair vote on 1 November 2015 given that leaders of opposition parties have been imprisoned, media and journalists are not allowed to operate freely and without intimidation, and a climate of fear is prevalent;

 

21. Calls on the EEAS and EU member states to refrain from election observation activities as any observation mission under the present conditions will be futile and only serve to legitimise a deeply flawed electoral environment;

 

22. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European External Action Service, the European Council, the Commission, the Governments and Parliament of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the UN Human Rights Council.

 

 

Last updated: 8 September 2015Legal notice