The Azerbaijan authorities should release 18 people, including a prominent religious scholar and a leading political opposition activist, who were wrongly convicted and sentenced to long prison sentences on January 25, 2017, Human Rights Watch said today:
Seventeen of the men alleged that police severely ill-treated them in detention to coerce confessions and testimony against others. The authorities targeted the political activist for criticizing government policies on Facebook… The court also sentenced Fuad Gahramanli (left), a prominent activist and deputy chairman of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP), to 10 years in prison for criticizing the government on Facebook..… Gahramanli actively participated in the coalition of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a prominent international coalition that brings together governments, companies, and nongovernmental groups to promote better governance in how oil, gas, and mining revenues are used. …. In April 2015, EITI downgraded Azerbaijan’s status in the initiative for the government’s failure to comply with EITI requirements for unhindered civil society participation. Azerbaijan remains under EITI review.
“The Azerbaijan authorities completely failed to take seriously or properly investigate the serious allegations of torture and convicted 17 people based on evidence tainted by these allegations,” said Jane Buchanan, acting deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.