The Council of Europe has given the prize of Václav Havel to Azerbaijan. Futher steps must be taken.

Published: Sep 30, 2014 Reading time: 2 minutes
The Council of Europe has given the prize of Václav Havel to Azerbaijan. Futher steps must be taken.

Prague, 30 September 2014 - Defender of Human Rights, Anar Mammadli from Azerbaijan, is known for his struggle towards gaining the right of free and fair elections for all. Mammadli was awarded the prize of Vaclav Havel, which was granted for the second time this year by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in cooperation with the Václav Havel Library.

"We are pleased that the prize goes to Azerbaijan. We see this as a commitment that the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly will responsibly devote themselves to concerning the violations of rights in this country, and will create pressure for Anar Mammadli, and hundreds of other Azerbaijani political prisoners to be released, "says Adele Pospíchalová from People in Need.



The Council of Europe supervises the observance of human rights and freedoms, but its most famous institution is the Court of Human Rights located in Strasbourg. Since May of this year, Azerbaijan chaired the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, a decision which was met with a great wave of criticism in relation to the blatant trampling of values and principles by this "watchdog" of European democracy. Since taking over the presidency, in addition to the situation of the human rights, the country’s situation as a whole has deteriorated, and there has been a wave of arrests and repression against those who have criticized the regime.

People in Need challenges the prestigious German think-tank, European Stability Initiative (ESI), which requires the activity of the Azerbaijani Presidency of the Council of Europe. There is a boycot to release Anar Mammadli, so that an independent commission can be established that would investigate the cases of other political prisoners (the list can be downloaded here), and so that member countries can properly demand the admission of observers to prison. (Text challenges from ESI can be found here.) "It is necessary that the Council of Europe adopts a principled stance towards its presiding country instead of hypocritically disregarding the violation of human rights in Azerbaijan," adds Pospíchalová.

The event will be taking place in the Square of Peace and will be devoted to the political prisoners in Aserbaijan. A symbolic cell will be built on Tuesday, October 14, from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., which will commemorate the fate of activists, human rights defenders, independent journalists, opposition politicians and others who must spend their time in jail for their critical attitudes.

In May of this year, Anar Mammadli was sentenced to five and a half years in prison for alleged tax evasion, illegal business activity, abuse of the center for monitoring elections and abuse of democracy to falsify election results. International observers agree that these were trumped-up charges and Anar is ranked among the prisoners of conscience. There are about one hundred prisoners of conscience  in Azerbaijan according to international observers.


For further information, please contact:

Rostislav Valvoda, Centre for Democracy and Human Rights of People in Need

Telephone: 608 527 312; e-mail:

Autor: Adéla Pospíchalová