OSCE/ODIHR director raises case of Azerbaijani human rights defender Khadija Ismayilova in first report to OSCE Permanent Council
VIENNA, 31 October 2014 – Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), today cited the case of Azerbaijani human rights defender and journalist Khadija Ismayilova in calling on OSCE participating States to refrain from pressuring or harassing individuals for their legitimate activities in supporting the promotion and protection of human rights.
“Ismayilova was detained and questioned at the end of September upon returning from the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw, where she raised concerns over failures by the Azerbaijani authorities to meet the country’s commitments in the area of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” Link said. “I raised her case yesterday in my first report to the OSCE Permanent Council, stressing that human rights defenders have to be able to work free of harassment and intimidation.”
“OSCE participating States have committed themselves to ensure the protection of human rights defenders and to facilitate contacts across the OSCE area in relation to this vital work,” Link added. “This is the very purpose of the meeting Ismayilova attended in Warsaw.”
Since returning from the event, Ismayilova has reportedly been the focus of criminal investigations and could face serious criminal charges as a result of her human rights activities. Allegedly, she has also been refused permission to leave the country to attend other human rights-related events in the OSCE area.