The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) together with the International Partnership Group on Azerbaijan (IPGA) has called on the Azerbaijani authorities to lift the travel ban imposed on investigative journalist, Khadija Ismayilova and cease all legal proceedings against her.
Against the backdrop of the unprecedented crackdown on civil society, Khadija Ismayilova’s arrest on criminal defamation charges seems imminent and would confirm the authorities’ intent to silence all critical voices in the country.
The EFJ, as part of the International Partnership Group on Azerbaijan (IPGA), including APC, ARTICLE 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Index on Censorship, Freedom House, Freedom Now, the Human Rights House Foundation, International Media Support, the Media Diversity Institute, PEN International and Reporters without Borders, call on the international community, and in particular Council of Europe member states to immediately and publicly condemn the ongoing harassment and politically motivated criminal charges against Khadija Ismayilova.
With the next court hearing taking place on Friday 17 October, at 11.30 in Binagadi district court in Baku, Council of Europe member states should publicly request to attend and send a representative to monitor the hearing.
In a joint statement, the EFJ and IPGA member expressed that Khadija Ismayilova’s attendance at the most recent session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg triggered the latest string of harassment, including a five hour search upon arrival at the airport following her trip, the criminal defamation charges and the imposition of a travel ban.
The IPGA calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to cease its harassment of Khadija Ismayilova and stop the silencing of its critics through imprisonment and politically motivated legal actions. Member states of the Council of Europe, the main human rights institution in Europe, need to speak up and hold Azerbaijan to account for failing to implement its human rights obligations. With Azerbaijan as chair of its Committee of Ministers until 14 November, the integrity and accountability of the institution is at stake.
For further information about Khadija Ismayilova, also see the recent IPGA report Azerbaijan – when the truth becomes a lie.