(Brussels) – European Union officials should press President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan to free unjustly imprisoned political activists, journalists, and other government critics, Human Rights Watch said today. EU officials should also urge Aliyev to end the crackdown on independent groups and allow them to operate without undue government interference.
President Aliyev will be in Brussels on February 6, 2017, to inaugurate talks on a new partnership agreement between Azerbaijan and the EU to enhance political and economic ties between them. He is set to meet European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Council Donald Tusk, and other top EU officials.
“Time and time again, the EU has praised courageous human rights defenders, pledging to ‘throw the EU’s full weight behind them,’” said Lotte Leicht, EU director at Human Rights Watch. “As the EU and Azerbaijan forge a new era of cooperation, now is the time to make good on those EU promises and not sweep Aliyev’s crackdown on dissent, and basic human rights under the red carpet.”