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Motion for a resolution - B7-0703/2011Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Azerbaijan, notably the case of Rafig Tagi


with request for inclusion in the agenda for the debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 122 of the Rules of Procedure

Véronique De Keyser, Hannes Swoboda, Kristian Vigenin, María Muñiz De Urquiza, Mitro Repo on behalf of the S&D Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B7-0701/2011

Procedure : 2011/2945(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected :  
Texts tabled :
Texts adopted :


European Parliament resolution on Azerbaijan, notably the case of Rafig Tagi

The European Parliament,

-     having regard to its previous resolutions on Azerbaijan, notably those concerning human rights,


- having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the EC and Azerbaijan which entered into force in 1999,

- having regard to the ICCPR and the ECHR to which Azerbaijan is a member,


-     having regard to Rule 122 (5) of its Rules of Procedure,



A.       whereas Rafig Tagi, a prominent Azerbaijani writer and journalist, died in Baku on 23 November 2012 from the injuries he sustained during a brutal and repeated knife attack four days earlier,

B.        whereas the Azerbaijani government opened a criminal investigation into the attack,

C.       whereas Rafiq Tagi had reportedly been receiving death threats in the weeks prior to the attack, believed to be in retaliation for an article amongst others published on Radio Azadlyq's (Liberty) website on 10 November 2011, in which he criticised the current Iranian government,

D.       whereas Rafig Tagi served a prison sentence following his conviction in May 2007 on charges of inciting religious hatred, based on an article he had written in the newspaper Sanat, in which he argued that Islamic values were preventing Azerbaijan's integration into European structures and stunting its democratic progress;


E.        whereas a leading Iranian cleric, Grand Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani issued the fatwa calling for Rafiq Tagi to be killed after Rafiq Tagi published the said article; whereas the fatwa also called for Samir Sadagatoglu, the editor of the Sanat newspaper, to be killed;


F.        whereas the Iranian authorities never condemned this fatwa, which appear to be an incitement to murder, nor have they clarified that anyone suspected of inciting, planning, carrying out or aiding attacks on Rafiq Tagi or Samir Sadaqatoglu should be brought to justice;


G.       whereas after the death of Rafig Tagi, the Iranian cleric Mohammad Javad Lankarani, Ayatollah Fazel Lankarani’s son, issued a statement on his web site strongly praising Tagi’s murderers,




H.       whereas the UN Human Rights Committee, which oversees the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to which Iran is a state party, recently expressed concern about the Article 226 of the Iranian Penal Code, which says that "committing murder will result in retaliation provided the murdered person did not deserve to die in accordance with Islamic law"; whereas fatwas are used to justify that an individual "deserves to die";


I.         whereas the Azerbaijani authorities never publicly condemned the fatwa and the public death threats Rafig Tagi received during his trial on the "defamation of religion" in 2007; whereas even his death has only had minimal coverage on state controlled TV and the authorities have yet to publicly condemn his murder;


J.         whereas the Azerbaijani authorities have a poor record of investigating attacks against journalists, contributing significantly to the climate of fear and impunity which is spreading throughout the media landscape over recent years;


K.       whereas Azerbaijan is actively participating in the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership, is a founding member of Euronest and is committed to respecting democracy, human rights and the rule of law that are core values of these initiatives;

L         whereas Azerbaijan will take up a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the period of 2012 - 2013, and has committed to uphold the values as expressed in UN human rights charter;

M.       whereas Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe and a party to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) as well as a number of other international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

1.        Strongly condemns the murder of Rafig Tagi and expresses its concern over the safety of Samir Sadagatoglu; is disappointed with the failure of the Azerbaijani authorities to condemn the murder of Rafig Tagi and ensure public awareness of the investigation of the circumstances surrounding his death;

2.        Deplores the fact that the Azerbaijani authorities have a poor record of investigating attacks against journalists; calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to end the climate of impunity and fear in the media landscape,

3.        Welcomes the move of the Azerbaijani government to set up a special working group to investigate the murder of Rafiq Tagi;

4.        Calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to carry out a thorough, prompt and effective investigation into the death of Rafiq Tagi and the circumstances surrounding it, which must include the context of his professional activities as a journalist and writer; urges the Azerbaijani authorities to swiftly bring the investigation to a conclusive end and to ensure that the perpetrator/s of this crime are prosecuted and brought to trial;

5.        Calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to do their utmost to protect the life and safety of Samir Sadagatoglu;

6.        Reminds that the ICCPR provides for freedom of opinion and expression, including criticism of religions and belief systems; further reminds that attacks on journalists and writers are attacks on freedom of the media and freedom of expression; stresses that the right to free speech is foundational to a free and democratic society;

7.        Calls on the Azerbaijani government to strengthen its efforts to guarantee freedom of expression, assembly and association ;

8.        Insists that threats and incitement to violence against individuals expressing views deemed "offensive" by some adherents of religions and beliefs systems are totally unacceptable, those responsible for these threats and incitement must be prosecuted, and the freedom of expression and the safety of the threatened individuals must be thoroughly guaranteed;

9.       Calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to refrain from abusing the criminal law to stifle free debate on religion;


10.      Urges the Iranian authorities to remove the concept of “deserving of death” from the revised Penal Code currently under discussion in Iran’s parliament; is gravely concerned that the existence of fatwas calling for the killing of an individual could be used as a defence in Iranian court by individuals accused of murder, on the basis that the victim "deserved to die"; urges the Iranian authorities to ensure that anyone suspected of inciting, planning, committing or aiding murder, whether the killing takes place in Iran or elsewhere, is brought to justice in a trial which fully meets international fair trial standards;


11.      Calls on the Iranian authorities to provide all necessary cooperation to the Azerbaijani authorities during the investigation of the murder of Rafig Tagi;


12.      Calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to show its genuine commitment to human rights and comply with its obligations under international law, in particular the protection of the right to life and to freedom of expression;


13.      Calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to demonstrate good will and release all the political prisoners and prisoners of conscience currently in jail ahead of its mandate as a non-permanent member of the UNSC;


14.      Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the EEAS, European Council, European Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Islamic Republic of Iran UN Human Rights Council.