Azerbaijan: OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Official Raps Baku
A leading representative of the OSCE’s Parliamentary Assembly is voicing concern about the fairness of Azerbaijan’s upcoming parliamentary elections on November 1.
In a statement issued October 27, Isabel Santos, the Portuguese head of the assembly’s Democracy and Human Rights Committee, cautioned that an ongoing Azerbaijani government crackdown on basic freedoms is having a “particularly damaging effect” on the country’s electoral process.
“On the eve of parliamentary elections, when independent voices are crucial for having an informed debate about the country’s direction, Azerbaijani citizens will especially suffer from the silence their government has imposed,” Santos was quoted as saying in the OSCE PA statement.
Santos also lamented the fact that prominent critics of President Ilham Aliyev’s administration are now behind bars, including investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, rights activists Intigam Aliyev and Leyla Yunus, and opposition leader Ilgar Mammadov. Watchdog groups contend that they were all jailed on politically motivated charges. Officials in Baku deny the country has any political prisoners.
The OSCE PA recently announced that it would not send an observer mission to Baku for the parliamentary elections after the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights cancelled its election-observation mission, citing restrictions imposed by Azerbaijani authorities.
Santos’ statement called on the Azerbaijani government “to abide by its election-monitoring commitments and allow the Organization to conduct full, unrestricted missions.”