Index on Censorship welcomes a European Parliament recommendation for the EU to ensure that Azerbaijan frees its political prisoners before the negotiations on a new deal between the EU and Azerbaijan are concluded. The recommendation mentions the jailed investigative journalist Afgan Mukhtarli as being among the “most emblematic cases”.
The talks on the new agreement that will govern relations between the EU and Azerbaijan were launched in 2017 and could be concluded in 2019. Azerbaijan has an extremely poor track record on human rights, as highlighted in a 2017 analysis by the European Parliament.
The European Parliament’s current recommendation calls on the EU to ensure that the deepening of relations with Azerbaijan is made conditional on upholding and respecting democracy, the rule of law, good governance, human rights and fundamental freedoms. It calls on the EU to underline the importance of a free and independent media and to ensure strengthened EU support, both political and financial, for a free and pluralistic press in Azerbaijan.
Joy Hyvarinen, head of advocacy at Index on Censorship, said: “We urge the EU to take a strong stand on media freedom and human rights in its talks on a new agreement with Azerbaijan. This is an opportunity for the EU to demonstrate global leadership and to promote fundamental European values. Freeing political prisoners such as investigative journalist Afgan Mukhtarli should be a priority.”