Friday Wrap-up: election observers, a lawsuit and suspension of voting rights after torture claims

Illustration: Meydan TV

This week saw the number of observers for the presidential election announced, a journalist sues government-funded media and a resolution against torture and ill-treatment in Azerbaijan.

Azerbaijan announces 64,000 observers for Presidential election

The Central Election Commission (CEC) of Azerbaijan revealed that around 64,000 observers are registered for the upcoming extraordinary presidential election on February 7, 400 of them being from international organizations. CEC Chairman Mazahir Panahov informed journalists on January 24 about the observer registration status. Additionally, three organizations have applied to conduct “exit polls”.

With only a limited number of international observers and a cautious selection of organizations for “exit polls,” questions persist about the depth and effectiveness of international scrutiny over the election proceedings.

The absence of registered opposition candidates and reports of stringent vetting procedures hint at a predetermined election outcome. These circumstances contribute to a growing perception that the electoral process may not uphold democratic principles, even with a high number of observers.

Journalist Hafiz Babaly sues government-funded media

Investigative journalist Hafiz Babaly, currently imprisoned in Azerbaijan, is taking legal action against government-funded local media for circulating compromising materials aimed at discrediting him. In a recent statement, Babaly refuted reports linking him to foreign funds within grant projects and warned of defamation lawsuits if his denial is not acknowledged. He specifically mentioned several media outlets spreading untrue information and expressed his intention to seek compensation for moral damage through civil lawsuits.

The situation reflects a broader crackdown on independent media in Azerbaijan, with AbzasMedia and journalists like Babaly facing government-backed discrediting efforts.

Over the past two months, Azerbaijan has seen the arrest of around 10 journalists, most charged with “smuggling.” Despite official claims that these actions target specific crimes, journalists argue they are being persecuted solely for their professional activities, challenging the government’s assertions on media freedom in the country.

PACE says it is “horrified by cases of torture in Azerbaijan” after restraint of delegation of voting rights

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has expressed horror at reported cases of torture in Azerbaijan, adopting a resolution on ill-treatment and torture in prisons. The resolution highlights concerns about widespread torture and ill-treatment, citing cases like the Tartar Case where individuals detained in 2017, including military personnel and civilians, were subjected to torture and inhumane treatment. PACE emphasizes that the absolute prohibition of torture is codified in various legal instruments, including constitutional norms.

In response to the reported torture in Azerbaijan, PACE has called for justice, demanding that perpetrators and high-ranking officials responsible for this case face accountability. The resolution also stresses the need for compensation and rehabilitation of victims, as well as the cancellation of convictions.

In a significant move, PACE has decided to deprive the Azerbaijani delegation of the right to vote until the January 2025 session. The decision, outlined in Resolution No. 15,898, received support from 76 deputies, while 10 voted against it, and 4 abstained. The discussions leading to this decision touched upon media freedom pressures and the arrests of journalists from AbzasMedia, who claim their detentions are linked to their professional activities.

ГлавнаяNewsFriday Wrap-up: election observers, a lawsuit and suspension of voting rights after torture claims