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World Antitorture Group Criticizes Azerbaijan

Youth activists Adnan Hajizada (left) and Emin Milli in undated photos

Youth activists Adnan Hajizada (left) and Emin Milli in undated photos

The World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) has criticized the Azerbaijani government for its use of arbitrary detentions, torture, and ill treatment of detainees in the country, RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service reported.

In a statement issued at the annual Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) human rights conference in Warsaw on October 6, the OMCT said the use of torture and abuse in Azerbaijan "remains widespread, in particular during arrest and interrogation sessions."

The OMCT referred to the case of Novruzali Mammadov, a journalist and human rights defender, who died in jail reportedly due to a lack of medical care.

Alexandra Kossin, the OMCT representative for Urgent Campaigns, told RFE/RL that the organization is also concerned about the seemingly arbitrary detention of bloggers Adnan Hajizada and Emin Milli, arrested on charges of hooliganism in July.

Kossin added that the OMCT is closely following their case and is concerned that they were allegedly denied medical assistance.

She said the OMCT denounces their arrest because they deem it to have been politically motivated.

The OMCT statement said that in respect to political prisoners, the Azerbaijan government "practically put an end to a dialogue it had engaged in with the civil society."

Kossin added that the organization will soon launch a follow-up to the urgent appeal in their case.

Milli and Hajizada were charged with hooliganism and inflicting bodily harm in an altercation at a Baku restaurant on July 8.

Since that time they have been in detention.

The OMCT is the largest coalition of nongovernmental organizations campaigning against torture and other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

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