Daniel Hamilton works in government relations and is a former Conservative councillor. He writes in a solely personal capacity. Follow Daniel on Twitter.
On Wednesday, two key resolutions will be debated in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe concerning human rights in Azerbaijan.
Such resolutions will be crucial in persuading President Aliyev and the Azeri government to pursue much needed human rights reforms in a country where stunning economic success has yet to be matched with respect for freedom of expression and assembly. With the outcome of the vote on a knife-edge, Conservative delegates must send a clear message in support of democracy and freedom of speech and vote in favour.
The first resolution, authored by Maltese MP Joseph Grech and Spanish Senator Pedro Agramunt calls upon the Assembly to endorse a report prepared by the Council of Europe’s special envoys for Azerbaijan outlining “growing concerns with regard to rule of law and respect for human rights’, and calling for the “full implementation” of basic freedoms including freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association.
The second resolution focuses on the issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan; including journalists, bloggers and peaceful protesters sentenced to lengthy prison terms for opposing the Aliyev government. The report concludes that the judicial process in Azerbaijan “can be and appears to be abused for political ends, in order to intimidate, silence, or otherwise neutralise opponents seen as threats by the ruling elite, both activists of secular or religious opposition parties and independent civil society activists, lawyers, human rights defenders, and journalists”.