Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, strongly criticized Azerbaijan in her report to the Permanent Council.
“On 25 March, I wrote to Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov to welcome President Ilham Aliyev’s decision to pardon Ganimat Zahidov, chief editor of the newspaper Azadliq. Zahid served half of the four year-prison term he was sentenced to after being convicted on questionable criminal charges. All my subsequent interventions focused on the three remaining jailed journalists and bloggers,” the report reads.
Dunja Mijatovic also noted that she called on Azerbaijani authorities to comply with a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights holding that journalist Eynulla Fatullayev had been wrongfully sentenced to 8.5 years’ imprisonment in 2007 and should be immediately set free.
“On 15 June, I wrote to President Aliyev asking him to secure the release of Fatullayev and two video bloggers – Emin Abdullayev (Milli) and Adnan Hacizade – who are serving two and two-and-a-half years in jail, respectively, on charges of hooliganism and inflicting light bodily injuries. An appeals court in March upheld both sentences,” she added. However, on June 6 Fatullayev was sentenced to an additional 2.5 years’ imprisonment.
“On the same day, I publicly condemned this new sentence which, in my view, shows that Azerbaijan is unwilling to fulfill its OSCE media-freedom commitments. My Office will continue to closely monitor the Fatullayev case and will continue to insist that this journalist, as well as the two video bloggers, be set free,” Mijatovic concluded.