Since the previous EU-Azerbaijan human rights dialogue in October 2017, the political context and human rights situation has not improved in the country. The authorities continue to rule based on a system of patronage and oppression, unfair elections, and a high level of corruption which mean that Azerbaijan is moving towards a consolidated autocracy. The crackdown on civil society and free speech continue. In a positive and unexpected development on 13 August 2018, the prison sentence on Ilgar Mammadov, political prisoner and leader of the REAL political movement was changed to a suspended one, after he had spent 5 years in prison. In two separate rulings, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) found his imprisonment illegal and politically motivated. Mammadov remains banned from travelling abroad until 13 August 2020 and his charges still stand. However, outstanding issues remain concerning pervasive violations of the fundamental freedoms of association, expression and assembly and the authorities’ persecution of critics or perceived critics continues unabated.
This briefing paper was prepared by Democracy Monitor, Human Rights Club and International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR). It provides an overview of current key issues with respect to freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression and the media in Azerbaijan.