Human Rights House Foundation statement

HRC55 – Item 6 – UPR adoption – Azerbaijan

25 March 2024

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Thank you, Vice President.

Since Azerbaijan’s review under the UPR process in November, just a few months ago, the situation on the ground in Azerbaijan has dramatically deteriorated, including with many politically-motivated detentions and charges against journalists and human rights defenders.

The timing of these actions is particularly concerning as Azerbaijan prepares to host the 2024 UN Climate Change Conference in November. Azerbaijan must provide concrete assurances that international civil society who visit Baku in November, as well as local civil society, will be able to freely participate in COP29.

The latest crackdown comes with Azerbaijan now holding over 230 political prisoners. One of the most high-profile prisoners, an activist, academic and politician Gubad Ibadoghlu, is also being denied vital medical care. We call on Azerbaijan to release Dr Gubad and all other political prisoners.

Azerbaijan’s previous commitments made through the UPR on freedom of assembly, association and expression have not translated into any improvements on the ground.

Azerbaijan must remove the necessity for prior authorisation of assemblies, which has amounted to a de facto ban on sizable gatherings, and should implement training for law enforcement on the principles of proportionality and necessity.

Furthermore, journalists face continuous threats. Over a dozen journalists have been imprisoned on spurious charges, and restrictive laws continue to silence dissent. We call on Azerbaijan to heed many UPR recommendations calling for the safeguarding of freedom of expression, to desist from the persecution of media outlets and media professionals, release those unjustly detained, and revise its legislation.

The UPR framework, alongside Azerbaijan-focused judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, provides a roadmap for Azerbaijan to address these issues. Azerbaijan must undertake reforms that reflect the UPR recommendations, ensuring that all citizens are able to enjoy their fundamental rights and freedoms.

Thank you.