A European Parliament motion calling for the release of prisoners inside Azerbaijan who are facing criminal trials in open court amounts to an attack on the Azerbaijani legal system and is “direct interference in a criminal investigation”, an Azerbaijani MP said today.
The motion has been tabled by German MEP Alexander Graf Lambsdorff and the ALDE Group and calls for the release of Leyla Yunus and her husband who face a range of charges including embezzlement from a string of NGOs they host in Azerbaijan.
Elkhan Suleymanov, Chairman of Azerbaijani Delegation to the Euronest PA, has branded the motion “direct interference in a (criminal) investigation”, adding that the Leyla Yunus case comes from Baku’s campaign against corruption and graft.
She is accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of Euros from organisations she was involved with including the Institute for Peace and Democracy and the Society of Women of Azerbaijan for Peace and Democracy for the Transcaucasus.
Suleymanov said these instances came to light as a result of the reforms undertaken in line with the world’s best practices. But now some MEPs want to subvert due process with this latest motion.
“I would like to note that recent changes and amendments to the law aim at increasing transparency in the activity of non-governmental organizations,” he said.
“These changes and amendments cover both public and private sector, and are the part of comprehensive measures towards the fight against corruption in all spheres of Azerbaijani society.”
Suleymanov, who campaigns for the rights of the 1 million people displaced by the occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding territories by Armenia, said yet again European lawmakers are being selective with the issues on which they campaign.
“If Mr. Lambsdorff and his ALDE colleagues really want to ensure human rights and fundamental freedoms, then why don’t they raise questions about the restoration of violated human rights of the hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijani people as a consequence of Armenian occupation?” he asked in an open letter to the European Parliament leadership.
He noted that this occupation persists despite resolutions for Armenia to withdraw its troops from the occupied territories adopted by international bodies including the European Parliament and the United Nations Security Council. All have been ignored.
This latest motion, he concluded, is a distraction from this far more important issue.