Azerbaijan news

Friday Wrap-up: RSF statement, PoW exchange and embassies commitment to human rights

This week saw RSF’s statement on recent journalist arrests in Azerbaijan, an agreement on PoW exchange and European embassies’ commitment to human rights in Azerbaijan.

RSF: Azerbaijan is escalating assault on press freedom

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) strongly condemns Azerbaijan’s recent crackdown on independent media, highlighting the arrest of six journalists in just two weeks. President Aliyev’s intensified pressure on journalists and media outlets, exemplified by the arrests of AbzasMedia and Kanal13 employees, draws severe criticism from RSF.

The organization accuses Azerbaijani authorities of aiming to dismantle independent media that exposes corruption and political elite actions. RSF demands the immediate release of the detained journalists and calls for an end to the arbitrary arrests and violence inflicted on media professionals.

The statement underscores the ongoing harassment faced by journalists, emphasizing incidents of detention and psychological abuse and urging Azerbaijan to uphold its obligations to press freedom.

Azerbaijan and Armenia agree on prisoners of war exchange

An agreement between Azerbaijan and Armenia ended with both nations committing to releasing detainees. Azerbaijan’s agreement to release 32 individuals of Armenian origin and Armenia’s decision to release 2 Azerbaijani servicemen signal a breakthrough in direct negotiations between the Azerbaijani President’s Administration and the Armenian Prime Minister’s Office.

Not mediated by any third party, this development drew praise from the President of the Council of the European Union, Charles Michel, emphasizing the need to expedite a comprehensive peace agreement. The European Union has been actively fostering bilateral dialogue between the nations, and this momentous prisoner exchange demonstrates substantial progress in those efforts.

In parallel, diplomatic invitations have surfaced, with the Armenian Foreign Minister expressing readiness to meet with the Azerbaijani counterpart in Washington, awaiting a response from Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, the US Secretary of State anticipates hosting negotiations in Washington, heralding an optimistic turn following the tumultuous aftermath of the Second Karabakh War.

UK, US, and EU representatives affirm commitment to human rights in Azerbaijan

In a commemorative event marking the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Baku, envoys from the European Union, the United States, Great Britain, and Switzerland reiterated their shared dedication to upholding human rights globally. European Union Ambassador Peter Mikhalko emphasized the significance of the Declaration, praising Azerbaijani individuals actively advocating for human rights while expressing regret over the absence of some detained personalities, including journalists and activists.

British Ambassador Fergus Auld reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to engaging in human rights dialogues with Azerbaijan. He outlined specific discussions concerning detained academic Gubad Ibadoglu and the recent arrests of AbzasMedia executives, highlighting the UK’s recommendations to enhance investigative processes, amend defamation laws, and criminalize domestic violence.

US Embassy Chargé d’affaires Hugo Guevara reiterated the United States’ profound commitment to protecting human rights worldwide. Guevara expressed deep concern regarding recent arrests of civil society members and journalists in Azerbaijan, urging the government to ensure the protection of constitutional rights and uphold international obligations regarding freedom of speech and press. Collectively, these diplomatic voices underscored a unified stance in advocating for human rights within Azerbaijan and across the globe.

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