OSCE Freedom of Media Representative, Human Rights chief call for release of blogger and human rights activist in Azerbaijan
VIENNA/WARSAW, 6 March 2017 – Dunja Mijatović, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, and Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), today condemned the sentencing of Azerbaijani blogger and chair of the media NGO Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety Mehman Huseynov and called on authorities to release him.
On 3 March Huseynov was sentenced by the court in Baku to two years in prison on defamation charges. The case stems from Huseynov’s detention by police on 9 January. Following the detention, the blogger claimed he had been subjected to torture. The chief of the district police then filed a suit based on Huseynov’s claims, resulting in the charges.
“I call on the authorities to release Mehman Huseynov,” Mijatović said. “I am hopeful that this decision will be overturned in the appeals process.”
Mehman Huseynov is the brother of Emin Huseynov, a prominent freedom of expression advocate, who was forced to flee the country in 2015 (see http://www.osce.org/fom/122481).
ODIHR Director Link said: “Any allegations or reports of torture or other ill-treatment should be promptly and thoroughly investigated by the relevant authorities. The court’s decision in this case is cause for concern.”
Mijatović reiterated her call that authorities fulfil their longstanding promise to decriminalize defamation in Azerbaijan. She has repeatedly addressed the issue (see http://www.osce.org/fom/282286, www.osce.org/fom/102413, www.osce.org/fom/101513 and www.osce.org/baku/77483).
The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.