In a joint statement in June, 42 civil society organisations, including Index on Censorship, called on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to appoint a rapporteur to examine the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan.
One of the cases highlighted in the statement was that of investigative journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, whose case Index had raised with the Council of Europe’s Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists after receiving a report through their Mapping Media Freedom platform. Mukhtarli disappeared from Georgia in highly questionable circumstances in 2017, reappearing in Azerbaijan where he was sentenced to six years in jail on what the OSCE media freedom representative has referred to as spurious charges and an attack on free media.
Joy Hyvarinen, head of advocacy at Index, said: “Index on Censorship welcomes the appointment of a rapporteur to prepare a report on political prisoners in Azerbaijan for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. We urge the rapporteur Thorhildur Sunna Ævarsdóttir to prepare a frank report on the situation, in particular the case of journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who was jailed for six years on spurious charges”.