Monday 23.7.2018 in Latest Developments in Azerbaijan Country Page
#Azerbaijan continues mockery of justice as an appeal court confirms #EminAslan's 30-day administrative detention for disobeying police while "cursing publicly." All motions by his lawyer denied. #FreeEminAslan! (Photo by RadioAzadlig) pic.twitter.com/3PbQ4pJT2n— Giorgi Gogia (@Giorgi_Gogia) June 8, 2018
Civil Rights Defenders reported that on 4th June 2018, human rights lawyer Emin Aslan was detained by plainclothes security officers in Baku. For 12 hours his whereabouts were unknown. On 5th June, according to his lawyer, Aslan was charged and convicted to 30 days in administrative detention for "failure to obey the lawful orders of a police officer". Global Voices commented that:
"Emin's arrest is one of multiple recent government attempts to persecute the remaining voices of Azerbaijan's civil society. Scores of opposition party members have been rounded up and held on bogus charges."
Within this context, on 13th June 2018, Azerbaijani civil society organisations released a statement calling on Members of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to appoint a Rapporteur to examine the situation of political prisoners in the country. The organisations argue that there are currently at least 100 political prisoners in Azerbaijan, including religious activists, journalists, bloggers, members of the political opposition and human rights defenders. The statement further pointed out that:
"Although the government continues to brush off international criticism by claiming that all fundamental rights and freedoms are respected in Azerbaijan, international pressure remains one of the few remaining ways to demand accountability in the country."
The Steering Committee (SC) of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF) has expressed concerns about the transparency of the financial support from the European Union (EU) allocated to different projects implemented by civil society organisations in the country. The statement explains how two recent grant adjudication processes were "conducted in a non-transparent way" and no public announcement by the EU Delegation as to which organisations were the fund recipients was made. The organisation stated that some applicants and CSOs suspect that the EU decision about the projects "have favoured government backed civil society organisations".
The Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum recommended the EU to "publish the results of these two calls on their website and include a short description of the successful application" in order to reassure [European taxpayers] that their money is being spent on support for independent and genuine Azerbaijani civil society".
On 19th June 2018, families of political prisoners in Azerbaijan took to the street in downtown Baku to demand the release of their family members. Reports indicate that police officers detained some protesters, who were released a few hours later.