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Entschließungsantrag - B8-0418/2017Entschließungsantrag
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    MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the case of Afgan Mukhtarli and the situation of media in Azerbaijan

    13.6.2017 - (2017/2722(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

    Helmut Scholz, Marie-Christine Vergiat, Malin Björk, Josu Juaristi Abaunz, Merja Kyllönen, Martina Michels, Miguel Urbán Crespo, Lola Sánchez Caldentey, Estefanía Torres Martínez, Xabier Benito Ziluaga, Tania González Peñas, Barbara Spinelli on behalf of the GUE/NGL Group

    See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0414/2017

    NB: This motion for a resolution is available in the original language only.
    Verfahren : 2017/2722(RSP)
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    European Parliament resolution on the case of Afgan Mukhtarli and the situation of media in Azerbaijan


    The European Parliament,

    ·Having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,


    ·whereas on 7 February 2017 the EU and Azerbaijan launched the negotiations of a new agreement which offer a renewed basis for political dialogue and mutually beneficial cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan,

    ·whereas the human rights situation in Azerbaijan has deteriorated over the last years, characterised by several cases of intimidation and repression and even more generally by an intensified practice of criminal prosecution of NGO leaders, human rights defenders, representatives of political and social organisations regarding themselves in opposition, journalists as well as other civil society representatives;

    ·whereas journalists and civil society activists are often facing legal proceedings, travel bans and restrictions on their freedom of movement in relation to their human rights activities;

    ·whereas Afgan Mukhtari, an exiled Azerbaijani investigative journalist, who moved to Tbilisi in 2015 and was in the process of applying for political asylum, disappeared in Tbilisi on 29th May and resurfaced a few hours later in a Baku prison, whereas he is now confrontated with prosecution for illegally crossing the border, smuggling and violence against police authority, for the abovementioned charges and by that is facing a multiple year prison sentence, on 31th May he was sentenced by a Court to three months of pre-trail detention,


    ·whereas Afgan Mukhtari is known for his critical journalistic coverage of political and economic developments in the country and acrivities of several Azerbaijani authorities and went into exile to Georgia to escape reprisals for his work by the Azerbaijani authorities,


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


    ·whereas the Georgian Ministry of Interior has launched an investigation under Article 143 of the criminal code – unlawful imprisonment – into the case of Afgan Mukhtarli, and started communication with the Azerbaijani counterparts on this matter,


    ·Expresses its serious concern over the disappearance of Afgan Mukhtarli in Georgia and his obvious illegal transfer to Azerbaijan; 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; urges Azerbaijan to drop charges against Mukhtarli, release him and allow him to rejoin his family in Georgia;

    ·Reminds that it is the responsibility of the Georgian authorities to provide protection to all those third country nationals living in Georgia or requesting political asylum who face possible severe judicial consequences in their country of origin for human rights or political activities, in this regard reminds article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to which Georgia is a party, that clearly implies an obligation for each country not to expel, extradite or deport an individual to a state where he or she faces real risk of being subject to torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;


    ·Calls for the immediate and unconditional release from jail of all political prisoners, human rights defenders, journalists and other civil society activists in Azerbaijan, including Afgan Mukhtarly, Ilkin Rustamidze, Rashad Ramazanov, Seymur Hazi, Giyas Ibrahimov, Rasim Karimov, (... ... ) in line with the relevant judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and calls for all charges against them to be dropped, and for the full restoration of their political and civil rights and public image, extended to previously imprisoned and since released political prisoners;


    ·Urgently calls for the release of, and is particularly concerned about, journalists and political prisoners suffering from deteriorating health conditions and deprived of the required medical care, namely Tofig Hasanli and others;


    ·Calls for an immediate full, transparent, credible and impartial investigation of the death of Azerbaijani blogger and activist Mehman Galandarov on April 28 2017 while in the custody of Azerbaijani authorities;


    ·Strongly calls the Azerbaijani Goverenment and Parliament and all respective authorities to guarantee freedom of expression as well as all other political and human rights inshrined in the European Charter of Human Rights and condemns therefore in particular the continuing repression against freedom of expression, in which mainly journalists and the remaining independent news outlets have been targeted, calls to respect freedom of the press and media, both in legislation and in practice and both online and offline, stresses therefore the strong position to guarantee freedom of expression in line with international standards and to end censorship of criticism of the government via media outlets;


    ·Reiterates its strong condemnation of continuing repression against civil society in Azerbaijan; reiterates its urgent call on the Azerbaijani authorities to end the practices of selective criminal prosecution and imprisonment of journalists, human rights defenders and others who criticize the government: urges the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure that independent civil society groups and activists can operate without undue hindrance or fear of persecution, and therefore contributing towards a strengthening of democratic structures in both the Azerbaijani state and society including by repealing the laws severely restricting civil society, unfreezing bank accounts of non-governmental groups and their leaders, and allowing access to foreign funding in accordance with the Azerbaijani laws;


    ·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;


    ·Stresses that democracy, the rule of law and the respect for human rights is a basic understanding and must be at the core of the new partnership agreement between the European Union and Azerbaijan, which has to be guaranteed by both parties; reiterates its view that the pace of the negotiations for a new partnership agreement should be conditional to the progress Azerbaijan makes in respecting fundamental rights as it is a condition for the democratic development in the EU by fully implementing and guaranteeing the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and the ECHR by all 28 EU Member States too;

    ·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.