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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan

8.9.2015 - (2015/2840(RSP))

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

Ignazio Corrao, Fabio Massimo Castaldo, Laura Agea on behalf of the EFDD Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0856/2015

Procedūra : 2015/2840(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan


The European Parliament,

- Having regard to the EU Strategic Framework for Human Rights and Democracy of June 2012

- Having regard to EU Foreign Council conclusions of June 2014

- Having regard to the Eastern Partnership summit in Riga of 21-22 May 2015

- Having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in Azerbaijan, in particular those of 18 April 2012 containing its recommendations to the Council, the Commission and the EEAS on the negotiations of the EU-Azerbaijan Association Agreement, the one of 13 June 2013 on the case of Ilgar Mammadov and the one of 18 September 2014 on the persecution of human rights defenders in Azerbaijan

- Having regard to the statement of EP President Martin Schulz and Human Rights's Subcommittee Chair Elena Valenciano on the verdict handed down to Leyla Yunus and Arif Yunus

- Having regard to the remarks by President Donald Tusk following his meeting with the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev on the 22 July 2015

- Having regard to the Statement by the Spokesperson on the death of Azeri journalist Rasim Aliyev, of 10 August 2015

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

- Having regard to the Statement by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn on the sentencing of Khadija Ismayilova in Azerbaijan of 1 Semptember 2015


A.  Whereas on September 1, 2015, Khadija Ismayilova, Azerbaijan’s most well-known investigative journalist, was convicted on spurious charges of tax evasion and other economic crimes in a trial that fell far short of international standards, and sentenced to 7.5 years in prison,

B.  Whereas this verdict is only the latest in the Azerbaijani government’s unrelenting crackdown campaign to silence critics and restrict independent voices,

C.  Whereas over the past two years, authorities in Azerbaijan have arrested, harassed, and intimidated dozens of independent journalists, human rights activists, political opposition figures, and bloggers; whereas many of them have been convicted after patently unfair trials and sentences to prison terms, while others have felt compelled to flee the country or go into hiding, fearing persecution,

D.  Whereas on august 13, 2015, prominent rights defenders and peace activists Leyla and Arif Yunus have been sentenced to o lengthy prison terms for alleged economic crimes following a politically motivated prosecution and a trial conducted in violation of due process safeguards

E.  Whereas both Leyla and Arif Yunus suffer from severe health conditions; whereas Arif Yunus was heavily medicated during the proceedings and could barely sit up or follow the trial while while Leyla already serious medical conditions deteriorated further during detention and pre-trial, 

F.  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;


G.  Whereas in april well-known human rights activist Rasul Jafarov and one among the country’s most respected human rights lawyers Intigam Aliyev were sentenced on similar charges, following trials marred by due process violations, and are currently serving prison sentences of six years and three months, and seven-and-a-half years, respectively.

H.  Whereas journalists and civil society leaders are subjected to continuous intimidation and harassment, including Emin Milli, Director of Meydan TV, who has received death threats and member of whose family have been arrested on trumped up charges, as well as journalists working with Meydan TV in Azerbaijan;


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


J. Whereas the European Union has only been able to disburse 2 of its 13 grants to NGOs in 2014 because of Azerbaijan NGO's restrictive legislation and continues to face severe limitations to its ability to fund independent civil society groups and activists in Azerbaijan.


K.  Whereas presidential and parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, since and including the presidential election of October 2003, have a record of not being free and fair according to OSCE/ODIHR election observation missions and whereas conditions are not in place to have free and fair parliamentary elections, scheduled for 1 November 2015, as leaders of opposition parties have been imprisoned, media and journalists are not allowed to operate freely and a climate of fear is prevalent


1.  Is extremely worried by the general human rights climate in Azerbaijan and by its rapid deterioration through a severe crackdown on human rights, a systemic repression of human rights defenders, the media and those critical of the government and by politically motivated prosecutions; is extremely concerned by this ongoing process that is turning Azerbaijan into an authoritarian regime,


2.  Calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all imprisoned human rights defenders, lawyers, 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;


3. Condemns the conditions of imprisonment of Leyla and Arif Yunus, and Intigam Aliyev which have led to serious deterioration of their health with possibly life-threatening consequences; urges the authorities to ensure that Arif Yunus and Leyla Yunus urgently receive all necessary medical treatment, and, pending their release, are transferred to hospital if required;


4.  Calls on the Azeri government to implements European Court of Human Rights judgments, including by immediately and unconditionally releasing Ilgar Mammadov

5.  Calls on the Azeri government to immediately end its crackdown on civil society and human rights work, ensuring independent civil society groups and activists can operate without undue hindrance or fear of persecution, including by repealing the laws severely restricting civil society, unfreezing bank accounts of nongovernmental groups and their leaders, and allowing access to foreign funding; demand that the Azerbaidjan authorities end censorship and ensure media freedom,

6.  Calls on the Azeri authorities to further review and amend the Law on Non-Gouvernmental Organisations (Public Unions and Foudations) in line with the Venice Commission recommendations of December 2014 ,

7.  Believes that the EEAS, the commission and the Council, together with the Members States, should mount a strong, unified response to the human Rights violations in Azerbaijan by implementing a common position and a single, coherent policy approach vis-à-vis Azerbaijan,

8.  Calls on the EEAS, the Commission, and member states to make use of all available mechanisms, within the EU’s own framework and beyond, to censor Azerbaijan until such time as the government releases those wrongfully imprisoned and ends the crackdown on civil society and human rights work; in this context calls on the council consider giving a follow up on the European Parliament’s call for targeted sanctions from 17 September 2014;

9.  Believes that the negotiations toward a Strategic Partnership Agreement with Azerbaijan should be immediately put on hold as long as Khadija Ismayilova, Leyla and Arif Yunus, Rasul Jafarov, Intigam Aliyev, and all others wrongfully imprisoned in Azerbaijan remain behind bars and the government fails to take concrete steps in advancing the respect of universal human rights,

10.  Is also convinced that future advancements in relations between the EU and Azerbaijan as well as future agreements should be conditional to concrete measures on the part of the Azeri government to improve its human rights record including the release of imprisoned human rights defenders, activists, and journalists and the end of harassment and legal restrictions on the operations of the independent civil society and media,

11.  Calls on the EEAS, the Commission, and member states to make use of all available mechanisms, within the EU’s own framework and beyond, to censor Azerbaijan until such time as the government releases those wrongfully imprisoned and ends the crackdown on civil society and human rights work

12.  Calls on the UNHRC to put Azerbaijan on its agenda and calls on the High Commissioner for Human Rights to report to the Council on the crackdown on civil society in Azerbaijan at the earliest possible occasion and pursue a resolution if the government continues to ignore repeated regional and international calls for releases and reform,

13.  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,

14.  Notes that independent election monitors, including the long-term OSCE observation mission and national ones, have documented major breaches to electoral standards in Azerbaijan for all presidential and parliamentary elections since and including the presidential election of October 2003;


15.  Considers 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 climate of fear is prevalent; urges, in this regard, the Azerbaijani authorities to make every effort so as to comply with the recommendations of the OSCE/ODIHR;


16.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government of Azerbaijan and the United Nations Human Rights Council