ECR group condemns the arrest of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova in Azerbaijan
The European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament today condemned the arrest of Radio Free Europe/Free Liberty investigative journalist in Azerbaijan Khadija Ismayilova.
Concerns have been raised about the detention and charges of “incitement to suicide” which have been brought against her, in a case which raises fresh concerns about media freedom in the country.
The ECR Group is demanding Ms Ismayilova’s immediate release, and has called on the Azerbaijani authorities to end the harassment of journalists and human rights activists in the country because of their professional activities.
It is believed Ms Ismayilova’s exposure of criminality and corruption amongst the country’s ruling political elite is the real reason for her arrest.
If convicted, Ms Ismayilova faces up to seven years in prison. Other journalists and human rights activists have already been jailed and harassed by the Azerbaijani authorities in what is being seen as a politically motivated crackdown on justice, freedom of expression, and human rights.
The ECR’s foreign affairs coordinator in the European Parliament, Dr Charles Tannock MEP said: “The ECR group is gravely concerned at the arrest Khadija Ismayilova as it clearly indicates that freedom of expression and human rights in Azerbaijan are openly abused and manipulated.
“This case – one of a number of suspicious imprisonments – is unfortunately yet another clear sign that Azerbaijan is steering away from the democratic values and justice.”
The ECR Group, which includes MEPs from Member States which were part of the Soviet bloc, regards the current situation in Azerbaijan as particularly worrying.
Roberts Zīle MEP said: “The manner of dealing with journalists and other civic activists who work for democracy are well known to us from the Soviet times.
It can’t be left without a strong reaction from the European Union and without tangible results, as Azerbaijan has committed to respecting human rights including freedom of media.”