On violations of freedom of assembly and the right not to be subjected to torture and ill treatment in rallies held on 19th and 20th October
Statement of the Human Rights Club
On October 19, the National Council of Opposition Democratic Forces held a protest in the center of Baku referring various political and social demands, and on October 20, women’s rights activists marched to protest the killing of women on the ground of domestic violence.
Monitoring and media reports of the rallies show that the police use excessive and disproportionate force against the protesters, violent behavior and that the organizers and participants were mistreated. As a result, the participants of the assembly, that nobody doubted that it would be completely peaceful, could not exercise their freedom of assembly.
Before and during the rallies on October 19, dozens of organizers and participants were sentenced for 5 to 60 days of administrative detention on misdemeanor charges of resisting police orders, subway stations have been suspended to operate within hours, and internet connection has been completely disrupted or weakened in some places. All of these create serious concerns about the protection of freedom of assembly and citizens’ right to access information.
The Human Rights Club believes that the incidents and the government’s cruel treatment of peaceful protests mean a complete restriction on freedom of assembly. The use of excessive and disproportionate force and violence by police against detainees and protesters is a violation of the right not to be subjected to torture and cruel, inhumane treatment, and to abuse the police and other law enforcement agencies for their benefit.
All of this is a gross violation of Azerbaijan’s obligations before the Council of Europe, the UN, the OSCE, and other international organizations, as well as the ratified conventions including the European Convention on Human Rights.
Human Rights Club strongly condemns government and calls to stop these repressive steps, to provide a fair legal guarantees to release of detainees, to conduct an objective and comprehensive investigation into cases of torture and ill-treatment, to take legal action against the perpetrators and those who order them, not to interfere with exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, to carry out fundamental reforms in these areas and to adhere to its international obligations.