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Motion for a resolution - B8-0420/2017Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the case of Afgan Mukhtarli and situation in 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

Cristian Dan Preda, Željana Zovko, Sandra Kalniete, Mairead McGuinness, Brian Hayes, Lefteris Christoforou, József Nagy, Marijana Petir, Ivan Štefanec, Milan Zver, Dubravka Šuica, Pavel Svoboda, Tunne Kelam, Patricija Šulin, Krzysztof Hetman, Jarosław Wałęsa, Sven Schulze, Ivana Maletić, Tomáš Zdechovský, Claude Rolin, Romana Tomc, László Tőkés, Bogdan Brunon Wenta, Eduard Kukan, Csaba Sógor, Adam Szejnfeld, Luděk Niedermayer, Giovanni La Via, Elisabetta Gardini, Michaela Šojdrová, Bogdan Andrzej Zdrojewski, Deirdre Clune, Elżbieta Katarzyna Łukacijewska, Laima Liucija Andrikienė, Jaromír Štětina, Jiří Pospíšil, Andrey Kovatchev, Seán Kelly, Ramón Luis Valcárcel Siso on behalf of the PPE 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.
Procedure : 2017/2722(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
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European Parliament resolution on the case of Afgan Mukhtarli and situation in media in Azerbaijan


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 the established relationship between the EU and Azerbaijan, which took effect in 1999 in the form of a PCA, the creation of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) and Azerbaijan’s participation in the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly,

–    having regard to the decision adopted by the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan from 30th September 2016 repealing their previous decision of 14th September 2015 to terminate their membership and participation in the EURONEST PA and therefore to remain and participate,

–   having regard to the mandate adopted on 14th November 2016 for the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy to negotiate, on behalf of the EU and its Member States, a comprehensive agreement with the Republic of Azerbaijan and the launch of the negotiations on the abovementioned agreement on 7th February 2017,

–    having regard to the visit of President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev to Brussels on 6th February 2017,

–   having regard to the recent visit of the delegation the Foreign Affairs Committee to Azerbaijan on 22nd May 2017,

–   having regard to the statement by the Spokesperson of the HRVP on “illegal detention of Azerbaijani nationals residing in Georgia”,

–    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, with growing intimidation and repression and intensification of the practice of criminal prosecution of NGO leaders, human rights defenders, members of the opposition, journalists and other civil society representatives;

B.    whereas many journalists and civil society activists are faced with legal proceedings, travel bans and restrictions on their freedom of movement in relation to their human rights activities;

C.   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, he is now facing prosecution for illegally crossing the border, smuggling and violence against police authority, for the abovementioned charges he is facing a multiple year prison sentence, on 31th May he was sentenced by a Court to three months of pre-trail detention;

D.   whereas Afgan Mukhtari is known for his critical journalistic coverage of the Azerbaijani authorities and went into exile to Georgia to escape reprisals for his work by the Azerbaijani authorities;

E.   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;

F.   whereas the Georgian Ministry of Interior 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;

G.   whereas the re-launch of relations with the Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the EP and its renewed membership and participation in Euronest PA and its activities have proven to be valuable and conducive;

1.   Condemns the abduction of Afgan Mukhtarli in Tbilisi and his subsequent arbitrary detention in Baku, considers this a serious violation of human rights, condemns this grave act of breach of law and Azerbaijan’s international commitments;

2.   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;

3.   Considers it of utmost importance that the Georgian authorities make every effort possible to clarify beyond any doubt all suspicion as to their possible role and involvement in the abduction, if any Georgian state involvement were to be proven it would constitute a severe violation of the letter and spirit of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement and European values and principles and severly damage the reputation and credibility of Georgia as a country strongly committed to the protection of fundamental freedoms and international law;

4.   Strongly condemns the prosecution of Afgan Mukhtarli following bogus charges, reiterates that he is trailed for his work as an independent journalist critical towards the authorities, which is a violation of freedom of expression;

5.   Calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Afgan Mukhtarli as well as all those incarcerated as a result of the exercise of their fundamental rights, including the freedom of expression;

6.   Expresses its serious concern over the continuing deterioration of the human rights situation in the country, and recalls that the EU attaches special importance to human rights and fundamental freedoms in the context of bilateral cooperation, as key elements of the Eastern Partnership and also as foundational pillars of international organisations such as the Council of Europe and the OCSE, of both of which Azerbaijan is a member;

7.   Expresses strong concern that the case of Afgan Mukhtarli is yet another example of the Azerbaijani authorities intensifying their targeting, harassing and persecution campaign aimed at critics living in exile, reminds of the previous cases of international arrest warrants requested against Azerbaijani citizens critical of the authorities living in exile;

8.   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;

9.    Strongly condemns the continuing repression against freedom of expression, in which particularly journalists and the remaining independent news outlets have been targeted, calls on Azerbaijan to respect freedom of the press and media, both in legislation and in practice and both online and offline, to guarantee freedom of expression in line with international standards and to end censorship of criticism of the government via media outlets;


10.   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 severely restricting civil society, unfreezing bank accounts of non-governmental groups and their leaders, and allowing access to foreign funding;

11.    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;

12.   Underlines the importance of the new partnership agreement between the European Union and Azerbaijan; stresses that democratic reforms, the rule of law, good governance, and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms must be at the core of the new agreement; reminds that it will closely monitor these issues when deciding on giving its consent to the new agreement once it is negotiated;

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