[JURIST] The Council of Europe [official website] released [press release, PDF] Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks's observations on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan on Wednesday revealing human rights issues including: freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association and the right to property. The observations follow his report [text, PDF] on the country published in August. Muiznieks was highly critical of journalist repression and reiterated the recommendations that he previously made in his report. Recent journalist arrests reinforced Muiznieks's concerns that no progress had been made towards greater freedom of expression since he published his previous report in August 2012.
Recently Azerbaijan has come under heavy criticism for its treatment of journalists. Earlier this month Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) [advocacy websites] urged [JURIST report] Azerbaijani authorities to conduct an investigation into the violent attack by police and security personnel against journalist Idrak Abbasov. In May 2011 journalism rights group Reporters Without Borders's (RSF) [advocacy website] released [JURIST report] its annual list of predators of press freedom, which included the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev. In April 2011, the US Department of State (DOS) [official website] released its 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices [materials]. The reports cited many of the same countries and organizations [JURIST report] as the RSF for violating freedom of the press, including Azerbaijan. RSF's 2010 report [JURIST report] also listed many of the same offenders. The country's treatment of property rights have also prompted criticism. Legal commentators have argued [JURIST op-ed] that Azerbaijan's ineffective laws, distrust in the courts and a lack of enforcement protocol are to blame for the current state of property rights in the country.