The European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini visits Azerbaijan today to discuss deepening cooperation between the two entities. The visit comes two months after the transfer of the leading human rights defender Leyla Yunus and her husband, Arif, from detention to house arrest for medical reasons.

Leyla Yunus returning to her house, December 9, 2015

After the Yunuses’ release, the EU had expressed hopes that “further steps will follow” from the Azerbaijani government to improve its abysmal human rights record. This hasn’t happened.

The government has done nothing to ease its aggressive crackdown on its critics.

Critics, or perceived opponents, convicted in politically motivated trials in the last two years, are serving long prison sentences, and some in detention can’t access essential medical care. Authorities intimidate and harass lawyers, political activists, bloggers, and relatives of journalists and human rights defenders who’ve fled into exile. Draconian rules prevent independent groups doing human rights work from securing foreign funding. As a result, victims of human rights violations who have relied on these groups’ legal aid and other services now have few options for meaningful recourse.

In a recent letter, six groups, including Human Rights Watch, urged Mogherini to use her discussions with Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev on a new Partnership Agreement to make clear that the government’s attack on human rights is incompatible with partnership negotiations. Mogherini should specifically call for:

  1. The immediate and unconditional release of all wrongfully detained human rights defenders, journalists and activists, including Intigam Aliyev, Rasul Jafarov, Khadija Ismayilova, Ilgar Mammadov, Anar Mammadli, Tofiq Yagublu, and Rauf Mirgadirov.

  2. Removal of unfair restrictions that prevent the Yunuses from traveling abroad for medical treatment.

  3. Repeal of legislation that restricts the legitimate work of independent organizations, human rights groups, and journalists.

Mogherini has a perfect opportunity to show the Azerbaijani leadership what kinds of partners are worthy of EU collaboration and cooperation. For the sake of human rights protection in Azerbaijan and the EU’s own integrity, I hope she uses it.