• 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.

  • Human rights defender Rasul Jafarov at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly in Baku in June 2014. Jafarov is now on trial in Azerbaijan

    Azerbaijan’s conviction on April 16, 2015, of a leading human rights activist and government critic, Rasul Jafarov, reflects the government’s relentless crackdown against independent voices. The authorities should immediately release Jafarov and vacate his politically motivated conviction. The authorities should also end their ongoing harassment of the country’s human rights community and allow human rights groups to function freely.

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Azerbaijan