The Commissioner of the Council of Europe Dunya Miyatovich has commented for Turan news agency recent violation of human rights by police in Azerbaijan.
“The global health problems caused by COVID-19 have required effective measures to protect people’s health and lives. In many Council of Europe member states, laws limiting public gatherings, as well as freedom of movement, have been adopted. Regrettably some governments, including Azerbaijan, have been using this imperative as an excuse to clamp down on freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. This is a counterproductive approach. COVID-19 restrictions should not halt these freedoms. I can only repeat that, particularly in times of crises, any restrictions imposed on rights must adhere to the principles of legality, necessity and proportionality.
I have already cautioned against disproportionate interference with the right to freedom of peaceful assembly in Azerbaijan. In a recent letter to the Minister of Internal Affairs, I raised concerns in relation to the dispersal of demonstrators and limitations imposed on freedom of assembly in that context, in particular the excessive use of force against demonstrators by law enforcement officials. It is now of the utmost importance to ensure that the public health emergency is not used as a pretext for further rights infringements.
There is no doubt that governments are facing unprecedented challenges during this pandemic. However, the crisis must not be a pretext to justify the excessive use of force, physical ill-treatment or other forms of abuse by the police”, – said Miyatovich.