The Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a decision on the preparation of a report entitled “Threats to life and safety of journalists and human rights defenders in Azerbaijan.” The decision of the Bureau published on the PACE website on June 27, 2022, notes that the Bureau has instructed the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Assembly to prepare the relevant report. The Bureau’s decision also notes that the matter is to be referenced to the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media for opinion.
In early May, a group of PACE members came up with a motion for a resolution “Threats to life and safety of journalists and human rights defenders in Azerbaijan.” 37 PACE members from 24 countries supported the initiative of the Belgian delegate Christophe Lacroix.
The parliamentarians specifically cited the February 22 murder of a journalist and LGBT activist Avaz Shikhmammadov (a.k.a. Avaz Hafizli) in his home, the kidnapping of a blogger and human rights activist Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, and threats to investigative reporters in Azerbaijan and abroad.
It is expected that the PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights will appoint a rapporteur in two months and endow him with an appropriate mandate for two years. By 2024, the rapporteur will prepare a report on the threats to critical voices within the country and to those who continue their work in exile. During the period of work on the comprehensive report, the rapporteur will also be able to quickly respond with statements to egregious facts of pressure and threats against journalists, bloggers, and human rights defenders, carry out assessment missions to Azerbaijan, hold meetings with the government and representatives of civil society, visit detained and arrested journalists and bloggers in prisons.