• Azerbaijan hosted the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, casting an international spotlight on the government’s deteriorating human rights record. The atmosphere for political activists and independent and pro-opposition journalists grew acutely hostile. Authorities used imprisonment as a tool for political retribution and forcibly dispersed a number of peaceful demonstrations, indiscriminately arresting activists and passersby. Restrictions on freedom of religion and the prosecution of unregistered religious groups continued. The government intensified its urban renewal campaign in the capital Baku, forcibly evicting thousands of families and illegally demolishing homes.

  • Gubad Ibadoglu, activist for revenue transparency in Azerbaijan and member of the governing board of EITI, has been targeted in a government crackdown on independent groups.
    The Azerbaijan government’s offensive against human rights defenders and nongovernmental organizations should lead to its suspension from an international transparency initiative.



  • Oct 17, 2014
    A hearing on whether to extend the pretrial detention of an outspoken Azerbaijani activist is expected during the week of October 20, 2014. Leyla Yunus, who is in ailing health, has been held since July 30 and her husband, Arif, also ailing, since August 5, both on politically motivated charges.
  • Oct 15, 2014
    A warning from a prominent international transparency group on October 15, 2014, gives Azerbaijan’s government a clear incentive to promptly open up space for activists to operate.
  • Oct 13, 2014
    Draft amendments to limit funding of independent groups under Azerbaijan’s already harsh laws would make it nearly impossible for them to operate.
  • Oct 7, 2014
    The depiction by Azerbaijan’s foreign minister of summer 2014“as a particularly dark time” in an October 2 speech at the Council of Europe couldn’t have been more fitting to describe the state of human rights in his own country.
  • Sep 29, 2014
    Azerbaijan’s longstanding repression of independent voices has reached crisis levels, even as it nears the end of its six-month chairmanship of the Council of Europe.
  • Sep 25, 2014
    We write to express our grave concern over the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders in Azerbaijan and to urge a robust Council of Europe response.
  • Sep 24, 2014
    BP should tackle a harsh government crackdown on independent groups and activists in Azerbaijan, Human Rights Watch said in a letter released today. The crackdown has seriously compromised an international natural resource transparency initiative in which the company plays a leading role. On September 20, 2014, BP and the government of Azerbaijan, a member of the same group, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), held a high-profile ceremony to mark the official start of a major new project to supply gas from Azerbaijan to Europe.
  • Sep 12, 2014
  • Aug 30, 2014
    The government of Azerbaijan appears intent on convincing the world that the oil-rich country is a prosperous and important player on the international stage.
  • Aug 29, 2014
    Last month police arrested Leyla, one of the country’s most prominent human rights defenders, on treason and other charges.