Summary. Arrest and imprisonment ; Bogus charges and other due process irregularities ; Targeting of journalists and attacks on freedom of expression ; Targeting of NGOs ; Restrictions on freedom of assembly ; What should be done?
I. Background. Azerbaijan's political landscape ; No checks and balances ; Impact of Arab Spring, Eurovision protests, and social media ; Hydrocarbon wealth and lack of accountability ; Corruption
II. Imprisonment and harassment of political activists. Ilgar Mammadov and Tofig Yagublu ; Yadigar Sadigov ; NIDA youth activists ; Misuse of narcotics charges ; Harassment and intimidation
III. Crackdown on the media. Defamation ; Criminalization of online defamation ; Prosecution of journalists ; Assault and harassment of journalists ; Azerbaijan's legal obligations on freedom of expression
IV. Imprisonment and harassment of human rights defenders and lawyers. Bakhtiyar Mammadov ; Oktay Gulaliyev and Ilham Amiraslano ; Taleh Khasmammadov ; Aslan Ismayilov ; International standards on the protection of human rights defenders
V. Pressure on nongovernmental organizations. Hostile rhetoric ; New requirements on NGO funding ; Impact of the amendments ; Difficulties of registration : case of Human Rights Club ; Suspension of registration: case of the Azerbaijan Human Rights House ; Hostile climate for NGOs ; Azerbaijan's legal obligations on freedom of association
VI. Public assemblies. Freedom of assembly prior to the new amendments ; New penalties for offenses related to public assemblies ; Increased fines and confiscation of property ; Police violence and arrests in relation to unauthorized, peaceful protests in Baku
VII. International responses to Azerbaijan's deteriorating human rights situation. Council of Europe ; European Union ; United Nations ; Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe ; United States
VIII. Recommendations. To the Azerbaijani government ; To Azerbaijan's international partners, particularly the European Union, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the United Nations, and other concerned states ; Specific additional recommendations to the European Union ; Specific additional recommendations to the Council of Europe ; Specific additional recommendations to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe ; Specific additional recommendations to the United Nations
Appendix. Communication with Azerbaijani government officials.
"The Azerbaijani authorities are engaged in a crackdown on freedom of expression, assembly, and association that has accelerated in the months leading up to the October 2013 presidential vote. In an effort to curtail opposition political activity, the authorities have arrested dozens of political activists on bogus charges, imprisoned critical journalists, broken up peaceful public demonstrations, and adopted legislation imposing new restrictions on fundamental freedoms. Human Rights Watch documented the arrest and imprisonment of several high-ranking members of opposition political parties, government critics with large followings on social media, and people who have frequently been involved in political protests. Tightening the Screws is based on more than 100 interviews and documents the cases of 39 individuals who were detained, charged, convicted, threatened, or harassed from February 2012 to August 2013. The report concludes that although Azerbaijan's human rights record has been poor for many years, the number of arrests, the adoption of harsher laws, and other measures to stop and prevent peaceful public protests indicate a new concerted government effort to curtail political and civic activism in Azerbaijan. The report calls on the Azerbaijani government to ensure the release of those held on politically motivated charges, abolish criminal defamation laws, allow peaceful assemblies, and end undue interference with freedom of association. It calls on Azerbaijan's international partners to hold Azerbaijan to its international commitments to freedoms of expression, association, and assembly under international human rights laws and instruments to which it is a party"--P.  of cover.
III. Forced evictions and demolitions of homes in central Baku
IV. Forced evictions and expropriations in Azerbaijani and international law
V. Failure to provide alternative accommodation or adequate compensation
VI. Protection and redress
VII. The role of Azerbaijan's international partners
"Since 2008, the government of Azerbaijan has undertaken a sweeping program of urban redevelopment in the capital, Baku. But in doing so it has illegally expropriated and demolished hundreds of homes, and forcibly evicted homeowners, violating their rights in the process. Based on interviews with affected homeowners, 'They Took Everything From Me' documents how the authorities forcibly evicted residents and demolished homes without adequate notice, often without warning or in the middle of the night, and destroyed or damaged personal possessions. In some cases the authorities cut off services, including electricity and water, and dismantled apartment buildings in order to compel remaining residents to leave. The report describes how the government refused to provide homeowners fair compensation for the values of properties, many of which are in highly-desirable locations. It also details the lack of effective legal recourse or remedy to individuals whose rights were violated. One of the four neighborhoods described in this report is Bayil, the seaside location of the National Flag Square and the Baku Crystal Hall, the venue for the May 2012 Eurovision Song Contest. Human Rights Watch calls on the Azerbaijani government to halt all further expropriations, evictions, and demolitions until they can be carried out in a manner consistent with Azerbaijani law and international human rights law. The prosecutor's office should initiate an independent inquiry into why the expropriations and demolitions in central Baku have been allowed to take place in a manner that clearly violates Azerbaijani and international law."--P.  of cover.
Prosecution of journalists and human rights defenders
Violence against journalists
Legislative and other restrictions on freedom of the media
International response to Azerbaijan's repression of free expression
Communication with Azerbaijani government officials.
"The government of Azerbaijan is engaged in concerted efforts to limit the space for freedom of expression in the country. Senior government officials frequently pursue criminal defamation and other cases against journalists and human rights defenders criticizing the government. Dozens of journalists have been prosecuted and imprisoned or fined. Police and sometimes unidentified assailants are able to physically attack journalists and human rights defenders with impunity, deliberately interfering with their efforts to investigate human rights abuses and other issues of public interest or in retaliation for their work. Recent legislative amendments restrict journalists' ability to use video, photo or sound recording without the explicit consent of an individual even at public events. The government also banned all broadcasting of foreign radio stations on FM frequencies beginning in 2009. State antagonism toward independent and opposition media has been a serious problem in Azerbaijan for a number of years. Many journalists and editors regularly resort to self-censorship to avoid criminal prosecutions or other repercussions for critical reporting. Dozens of journalists have fled Azerbaijan in recent years fearing for their safety. These trends are particularly alarming given the upcoming November 7, 2010 parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan, as vibrant public discourse is crucial for a free and fair vote. The government of Azerbaijan should take immediate steps to abolish criminal penalties for defamation. They should conduct prompt, thorough, and impartial investigations to end impunity for violence against journalists and human rights defenders. Azerbaijan's international partners should use every opportunity to urge the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure respect for freedom of expression and to release imprisoned journalists."--P.  of cover.