Rapporteur welcomes Azerbaijan's release of Afgan Mukhtarli, calls for immediate action on all cases of political prisoners in Azerbaijan

Sunna Ævarsdottir (Iceland, SOC), rapporteur for follow-up to PACE Resolution 2322 (2020) on “reported cases of political prisoners in Azerbaijan”, has welcomed yesterday's release by the Azerbaijani authorities of Afgan Mukhtarli, a critical investigative journalist who had been imprisoned since May 2017 after reportedly being abducted from Georgia.

“I am very pleased to hear that Mr Mukhtarli's ordeal has come to an end and that he will be reunited with his family,” said Ms Ævarsdottir. “The Assembly had already recognised Mr Mukhtarli, whom I met during my visit to Azerbaijan last September, as a presumed political prisoner in its Resolution 2184 (2017).”

“The Azerbaijani authorities must now take resolute action to fulfil their country's obligations as a member of the Council of Europe and a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, by releasing all other political prisoners and resolving the underlying systemic problems,” she continued.

“They must in particular immediately implement all elements of the relevant judgments of the European Court of Human Rights and begin working constructively with the Assembly on the recommendations set out in Resolution 2322 (2020). The window of opportunity for avoiding the most severe consequences of a persistent failure to act is rapidly narrowing.”