October 7, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland informed the Committee of Ministers of his decision to withdraw the Council's participation in the joint working group on human rights issues in Azerbaijan.
The joint Working Group on human rights issues was formed in 2008 with the goal to improve and protect human rights in Azerbaijan through implementation of international human rights standards.
Following an agreement between Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland and the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, the Joint Working Group met for the first time in 2014. At the time it was composed of 18 human rights defenders, members of parliament and officials of the Presidential Administration.
When the group came together in November of 2014, Secretary General acknowledged the meeting as a step forward in improving the human rights situation in the country. Jagland wished for sooner release of Ilgar Mammadov.
A year later, Mammadov remains behind bars and despite the initiative coming back to live since 2014 the overall situation of human rights defenders in the country has deteriorated dramatically.