In the period leading up to Azerbaijan’s February 2024 Presidential elections, and following its review under the Universal Periodic Review in November 2023, the country has experienced a disturbing escalation in human rights violations against independent media and civil society. This includes politically motivated detentions and charges against journalists and human rights defenders.

The latest crackdown comes against the backdrop of 235 political prisoners in Azerbaijan as reported by Azerbaijani human rights groups. One of the most recent high-profile prisoners, an activist, an academic and a politician Gubad Ibadoglu, is denied vital medical care and his health continues to seriously deteriorate.

The timing of these actions is particularly concerning, coinciding not only with the crucial electoral phase but also as Azerbaijan prepares to host the 2024 United Nations Climate Change Conference (Cop29) in November. These events cast a spotlight on the country’s human rights landscape, raising serious questions about its commitment to human rights and particularly freedom of opinion and expression at a critical moment.