Source: UN News Centre
UN Special Rapporteur Michel Forst on June 2, 2015 urged Azerbaijan to immediately release human rights activists before the inaugural European Games set for June 12-28,
UN News Center
“As preparations are in full swing for the Baku Games, the Azerbaijani authorities stepped up their efforts to harass, jail, and surveil human rights defenders, as well as ban them from travel and freeze their assets,” he
Forst condemned the “relentless prosecution and repression of prominent rights activists in Azerbaijan.”
He further underscored that such “unjustifiable criminalization” was usually justified with trumped-up or politically-motivated charges of state treason, illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion and abuse of office.
“As a result, most Azerbaijani defenders have had to endure prolonged pre-trial detention, imprisonment or exile,” Forst added.
In particular, he drew attention to actions against
for documenting cases of political prisoners, as well as Leyla Yunus and her husband, Arif, for criticizing the government, and Rasul Jafarov for organizing a “Sport for Rights” initiative during the Baku Games that aimed to expose corruption and rights abuses in the country.
Forst lamented continued efforts “to stifle fundamental freedoms of expression and association, and to shrink the democratic space even further in the country.”
The inaugural European Olympic Games represent “an opportunity for the countries of Europe to come together and celebrate the Olympic spirit of freedom and inclusiveness,” the UN expert noted, adding that the host country should embody those ideas and free rights defenders.