We are deeply concerned over the criminal prosecution with political motives leading to unlawful detention and imprisonment of our citizens without legal grounds.

The analysis of cases shows that anyone who criticizes government policy or high ranking officials of the government, publishes investigative articles or articles of critical nature, takes an active part in social media, fights for freedoms of speech, press, assembly, association, conscience and so on, or takes an active part, in general, in the socio-political processes without sharing the position of the authorities, can be arrested under fabricated charges.

Politically motivated judgments on arrests and imprisonments do not only inflict pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage on citizens, but also damage the image of the state of Azerbaijan. This is in violation of the obligations Azerbaijan has voluntarily taken before international organizations, in particular the Council of Europe. One of the obligations undertaken by Azerbaijan before the Council of Europe in 2001 was the release of persons regarded as political prisoners. This problem still remains unsolved; on the contrary, the number of political prisoners has grown after Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe.

We propose the following as a solution to the current situation:

To the Government of Azerbaijan:

— Take immediate measures for the release of political prisoners included in the list;

— Ensure the safety of political prisoners in pre-trial detention facilities and prisons;

— Start a dialogue with developers and supporters of the list for the discussion and solution of the problem.

To the international community:

— Call on the Government of Azerbaijan to fulfill obligations undertaken before international organizations and to release political prisoners;

— Keep attention on the problem of political prisoners during visits to Baku or visits of the officials of the Government of Azerbaijan;

— Impose sanctions on the authorities of Azerbaijan unless serious and reasonable measures are taken for the solution of the problem of political prisoners in the near future.

The Working Group on a Unified List
of Political Prisoners in Azerbaijan

March 2018