MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Azerbaijan, notably the case of Mehman Huseynov
15.1.2019 - (2019/2511(RSP))
pursuant to Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure
Ignazio Corrao, Fabio Massimo Castaldo on behalf of the EFDD Group
See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0056/2019
European Parliament resolution on Azerbaijan, notably the case of Mehman Huseynov
The European Parliament,
- having regard to its previous resolutions on Azerbaijan
- 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 statement of the VP/HR on the sentencing of Mehman Huseynov in Azerbaijan of 7 March 2017,
- having regard to the Council of Europe Commission for Human Rights, Dunk.a Mijatovic declaration on Mehman Huseynov
- having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
- having regard to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) co-rapporteurs on Azerbaijan declaration on Mehman Huseynov case,
A. Whereas the prominent anti-corruption blogger and director of the Institute for Reporter's Freedom and Safety (IRFS), Mehman Huseynov, imprisoned since March 2017, is facing new trumped-up charges of "resisting a representative of the authorities with the use of violence dangerous to his health and lifc";for which he could be sentenced to an additional seven years in jail
B. Whereas Mehman Huseynov is already serving the remaining of his previous two-year prison sentence, which was politically motivated as well, after he was jailed in March 2017 for allegedly "defaming" the policeman he said had tortured him while he was previously detained; whereas Huseynov was jailed after publicly criticising Mehriban Aliyeva's appointment to the post of first vice-president in February 2017
C. Whereas in the first days after the new criminal case was opened, lawyers were not allowed to visit Mr Huseynov who, in protest, began on the 27th of December an action of indefinite hunger strike.
D. Whereas Mehman Huseynow health condition is deteriorating sharply because of this hunger strike and there are now serious concerns about his well-being as unconfirmed sources claim he was urgently sent to a prison hospital on the 5th of January; whereas Azeri authorities are, on the other hand, denying Mr. Huseynov is on a hunger strike at all, as the Azerbaijan's Commission for Human Rights reports that he is accepting food and he is under the supervision of a doctor and feels well;
E. Whereas Huseynov's plight has attracted wide support, both at home and internationally, including from the Human Rights Committee of the Council of Europe who called for its release
F. Whereas Azerbaijan is ranked 163rd out of 180 countries in Reporters without borders 2018 Press Freedom Index as leading critical media outlets have been silenced or forced into exile, many independent websites are blocked and at least ten journalists are currently in prison
G. Whereas what is happening to Huseynov is not an isolated case and has to be put in a wider context of repression against critics of the government and journalists in the country, including Khadija Ismayilova, Anar Mammadov and Mustafa Hajibeyli, who are all facing difficulties, and a number of political prisoners who are in jail;
1. Expresses its great concern for the condition of Huseynov who is in danger of dying while imprisoned; considers that he has been persecuted on trump up charges because of his activities as blogger during which he criticized the government, denouncing high level corruption
2. Calls on the authorities of Azerbaijan to withdraw the new charges and provide all necessary medical care to Mr Mehman Huseynov by transferring him to a civil hospital and demands its immediate and unconditional release;
3. Calls on the Commission and the EEAS to consider this case a priority and to insist with Azerbaijani counterparts for a review of Mr Huseynov case in order to withdraw the new charges against him.
4. Urges the Commission and the EEAS to reinforce their political dialogue with the authorities of Azerbaijan regarding other peaceful human rights activists in Azerbaijan who are jailed
5. Expresses its concern over the ongoing repression against civil society in Azerbaijan and the alleged use of fabricated charges to silence criticism against the government;
6. Calls for the immediate and unconditional release from jail of all political prisoners, including journalists, human rights defenders, and other civil society activists, namely Afgan Mukhtarli, Ilkin Rustamzadeh, Rashad Ramazanov, Seymur Hazi, Giyas lbrahimov, Bayram Mammadov, Araz Guliyev, Tofig Hasanli, Ilgiz Qahramanov, Afgan Sadygov and others, including but not limited to those covered by 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;
7. 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 criticise the government, and to ensure that all persons detained, including journalists, political and civil society activists, enjoy full due process rights, in particular access to a lawyer of their choosing and access to their families, and are covered by other international fair trial norms;
8. Calls on the Azerbaijani authorities 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;
9. Calls on the government of Azerbaijan to immediately end its crackdown on civil society and to ensure that independent civil society groups, activists and human rights defenders 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
10. Urges the Government of Azerbaijan to fully comply with all rulings of the ECHR, and to cooperate with and implement the recommendations of the Council of Europe's Venice Commission and Commissioner for Human Rights and 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;
11. Reminds that the deepening of EU-Azerbaijan relations, including a new partnership agreement, is conditional upon it upholding and respecting democracy, the rule of law, good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms
12. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the European External Action Service, the European Council, the Commission, the President, Government and Parliament of Azerbaijan, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the UN Human Rights Council.