March 17, during the “Item 4” general debate at the 28th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council seven countries, mentioned Azerbaijan as the country of concern during their interventions. The United States, Ireland, Germany, Canada, Norway, Belgium and Czech Republic mentioned the on-going crackdown and restrictions against civil society, human rights defenders and independent media.
In their intervention Irish delegation said, “We are deeply concerned about the deteriorating situation of human rights in Azerbaijan. We call upon the Azerbaijani authorities to release imprisoned human rights defenders and civil society activists, and to adopt legislation allowing for the transparent and unhindered funding and functioning of NGOs”.
Germany urged the government of Azerbaijan “to ensure that investigations against human rights defenders are conducted in strict accordance with the rule of law, and that their detention conditions meet international human rights norms and standards.
“We are concerned about the harassing, arresting, and sentencing of human rights defenders, journalists, and peaceful political activists and about the deteriorating environment for independent media and civil society” read the statement of the Czech Republic.
The Human Rights House Foundation delivered a joint statement on behalf of joint NGO coalition consisting of six organizations, including Civicus, Article 19, Human Rights Watch, the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and the World Organization Against Torture in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders. “Since the presidential election in October 2013, Azerbaijan is leading a crackdown against human rights defenders and, more generally, against any independent voices in the country. As a result, unrelenting crackdown on human rights, key leaders of human rights organisations are behind bars, as well as leading journalists and other peaceful activists, including many activists of the youth movement NIDA” read the statement.