The European Parliament called on Azerbaijan to stop all actions aimed at suppressing the freedom of expression and assembly.

In its resolution issued on Thursday the MEPs said Azerbaijan’s hosting of the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in its capital Baku on 26 May should be an opportunity for it to show its commitment to democracy and human rights.

Citing reported attacks, harassment, threats and imprisonment of journalists, human rights defenders and others seeking to express their opinions, Parliament calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to stop suppressing the freedom of expression and assembly and to bring their legislation in these areas into line with international standards.

Parliament urges the Azerbaijani authorities to step up reform efforts in all areas of the judicial system, including prosecution, trial, sentencing, detention and appeals.

MEPs also criticize the expropriation of hundreds of properties and the forced eviction of thousands of people in the name of development projects, including those in the neighbourhood of Baku’s Crystal Palace, the Eurovision Song Contest venue.

Parliament calls on the EU’s High Representative for External Relations Catherine Ashton, the Council and the Commission to monitor the human rights situation in Azerbaijan after the Eurovision Song Contest closely and calls on EU member states to consider targeted sanctions against those responsible for human rights violations, should these persist.