Official meetings and dinner with the opposition - Council of Europe representative visits Azerbaijan
Council of Europe Rapporteur on Political Prisoners in Azerbaijan Thorhildur Sunna arrived in Baku to gather material for her report on the state of human rights.
From September 5-7 she held meetings with officials and civil society representatives.
She also wanted to meet with political prisoners, but so far, all that is known is that Sunna dined with the leader of the Republican Alternative Party Ilgar Mammadov.
Thorhildur Sunna and Azerbaijan
Thorhildur Sunna is an Icelandic lawyer, human rights advocate and journalist. She represents the Icelandic Pirate Party, which advocates for the reform of intellectual property and copyright laws.
In June 2018 Thorhildur Sunna was appointed rapporteur and assigned the task of preparing a report on political prisoners in Azerbaijan for the PACE Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.
In March 2019, as part of a mass amnesty, about 50 Azerbaijani political prisoners were released.
But at a hearing in Strasbourg in April, Thorhildur Sunna stated that this has not solved the problem, and that around 70 other people convicted for political reasons still remain in prison.
In the two and a half months following the pardons in Azerbaijan, several more opposition members and activists were arrested, and some of the political prisoners reported that they had been tortured.
Torhildur Sunna was planning to come to Azerbaijan in June of this year, but the authorities did not permit her arrival, citing as a reason the fact that June 4-5 are holidays in the country, as this is when the country celebrates Ramadan.
Because of this, the visit was postponed until September.
Meeting with Ilgar Mammadov
Ilgar Mammadov discussed his meeting with Thorhildur Sunna on his Facebook page:
“We had a very thorough conversation. In my opinion, it is unlikely that all of the political prisoners will be released before next January, but this year showed us that certain progress in this area is possible and that we should strive for more.
“The number of political prisoners must be reduced to zero. In addition, the decisions made by the European Court of Human Rights must be fully implemented, and to do this we must use all of the resources from political parties and civil society.”
Referring to “next January,” Ilgar Mammadov meant the next PACE session, when Thorhildur Sunna will present her report and discuss the conclusions she made.