Christoph Strässer

11.11.2011

Joint declaration by the Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid of the German Bundestag on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan has been a member of the Council of Europe since 2001 and signed the European Convention on Human Rights in April 2002, thereby committing itself to uphold the human rights standards enshrined in it. Azerbaijan made this commitment voluntarily and must expect to be judged on its compliance with these commitments. In March 2009 the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe appointed Christoph Strässer as its rapporteur on political prisoners in Azerbaijan. It follows that the rapporteur requires unhindered access to the prisons in Azerbaijan. Despite repeated requests, Azerbaijan has refused to grant the rapporteur a visa to enter Azerbaijan. Although the mandate’s limitation solely to political prisoners in Azerbaijan was dropped a few weeks ago, in response to a request from Baku, Azerbaijan has nonetheless failed to issue a visa to the rapporteur on political prisoners, forcing him to once again cancel a visit to the country. At the same time, the situation of political prisoners in Azerbaijan is a cause for concern. Members of the opposition, journalists and bloggers are being intimidated and imprisoned. It is therefore essential that the Council of Europe, via its rapporteur, be able to form its own view of the degree to which the standards of the European Convention on Human Rights are being upheld in Azerbaijan. The Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid - expects all members of the Council of Europe, including Azerbaijan, to honour commitments undertaken upon accession to the Council of Europe, including the commitment to cooperate with rapporteurs when appointed; - calls on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to seek to ensure that Azerbaijan authorises, without delay, the rapporteur for the Council of Europe on political prisoners, Christoph Strässer, to enter Azerbaijan, and that it provides him with all support necessary for the fulfilment of his mandate; - calls on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to seek to ensure that Azerbaijan complies with the standards which it has made a voluntary commitment to uphold as a member of the Council of Europe and undertakes comprehensive measures to comply with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms; - welcomes the efforts of the German Government to urge Azerbaijan to comply with human rights standards.