February 26, Isabel Santos (MP, Portugal), the chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, expressed deep concern about continuing threats to civil society and journalists in Azerbaijan and renewed her request to visit detained rights defenders in a press statement.
"The steady stream of threats to rights defenders and reporters in Azerbaijan continues to flow unchecked, pushing the country farther and farther away from its stated goal of democracy. The latest causes for concern are the closed-door trial of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova this week and the extension of the pre-trial detention of human rights activist Leyla Yunus last week. These developments only deepen the concerns of many in the international community that the authorities' goal is to silence all independent voices, dissent and calls for accountability -- and this must stop," Santos said in a statement.
Santos also mentioned the limited answers to her letter addressed to Azerbaijan Foreign Minister and Deputy Foreign Minsiter requesting information on charges against Yunus and Jafarov and the travel ban on Emin Huseynov. In her letter Santos also requested information on the raid of Radio Free Europe Baku bureau.
"I renew my still-unanswered requests to visit Ms. Yunus, as well as rights defenders Anar Mammadli and Rasul Jafarov," she added.
The press statement also notes the wide-ranging Final Declaration which was approved during the OSCE PA's 2014 Annual Session, held in the Azerbaijani capital. The Declaration contained a clause in which the Assembly "expresses concern at the misuse of administrative procedures and legislation to detain, imprison, intimidate or otherwise silence human rights defenders and critics in numerous OSCE participating States, including Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation."