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Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry disputes Council of Europe torture allegations

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan (MFA) has contested the recent allegations made by the Committee against Torture (CPT) of the Council of Europe, calling them “groundless and unfair.”

This statement was made by the MFA spokesperson, Aykhan Hajizadeh, in response to the CPT’s claims regarding Azerbaijan.

The CPT’s report suggests that, despite efforts to maintain a constructive dialogue with Azerbaijani authorities, there has been a lack of consistent cooperation from Baku. This perceived non-cooperation has led the CPT to publish its findings. The report details allegations of mistreatment and torture by Azerbaijani police officers and criticizes the Ministry of Internal Affairs for not implementing long-standing recommendations aimed at ending such practices.

Aykhan Hajizadeh emphasized that Azerbaijan rejects these criticisms, describing the CPT’s decision to publish the report without Azerbaijan’s consent as “unprecedented.” He expressed regret over the CPT’s approach, which he deemed legally questionable and unjust.

Hajizadeh highlighted that since 2002, the CPT has made several visits to Azerbaijan, during which the government has engaged with and responded to the CPT’s findings and recommendations. He asserted that Azerbaijan has taken necessary steps to address deficiencies and improve compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The controversy is set against strained relations between Azerbaijan and the Council of Europe. In January 2024, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) chose not to ratify the powers of the Azerbaijani delegation, a decision Baku views as biased. Hajizadeh suggested that the CPT’s report might be influenced by these broader political tensions.

In response to Azerbaijan’s stance, Theodore Roussopoulos, President of PACE, called on Azerbaijani authorities to resume cooperation with the CPT. He emphasized the importance of adhering to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which prohibits torture and inhuman treatment. Roussopoulos urged Azerbaijan to reconsider its position, stressing that cooperation with the CPT is crucial for upholding human dignity and improving overall relations with the Council of Europe.