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Azerbaijan: Human Rights

Volume 684: debated on Monday 17 July 2006

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make representations to the Government of the Republic of Azerbaijan and to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe about the reported persecution of journalists in Azerbaijan, including (a) the recent arrest of the journalist Sakit Zahidov and his detention after having published poems critical of the Government and senior public officials of Azerbaijan; (b) the kidnapping and alleged acts of violence against Bahaddin Haziyev, chief editor of the Bizim Yol newspaper; and (c) the murder of Elmar Huseynov, an Azeri journalist.[HL6842]

The Government were deeply concerned by the murder on 2 March 2005 of the journalist Elmar Huseynov. Our embassy in Baku, on behalf of the EU heads of mission, issued a press release on 3 March 2005 paying tribute to the contribution made by Elmar Huseynov to the development of a free media, democracy and pluralism in Azerbaijan. Our ambassador attended his funeral and the anniversary of his death. We have made known to the Azerbaijani authorities at senior level our concern at the lack of progress in identifying and bringing to justice those responsible for the murder.

In a meeting with the Sakit Zahidov defence committee on 4 July, embassy officials expressed concern at the arrest of Mr Zahidov and called on the Azerbaijani Government to follow due process in the investigation. At the same meeting, the officials also expressed concern about the circumstances in which Bahaddin Haziyev was injured. Our embassy is monitoring the case closely and has called on the Azerbaijani authorities to investigate the attack.