Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly to urge Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to end his country’s persecution of government critics.
In a statement on June 23, HRW's Europe and Central Asia director, Hugh Williamson, called it "sheer irony" that Azerbaijan is presiding over the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, "whose standards it so flagrantly violates."
The committee is the council's decision-making body. Baku took over as chairman for six months on May 14.
Also on June 23, more than 100 former inmates in Azerbaijan who considered themselves political prisoners called on the Parliamentary Assembly to increase its efforts to release political prisoners still remaining in Azerbaijani jails.
Aliyev, who has repeatedly denied the existence of political prosecutions in Azerbaijan, is scheduled to address the Parliamentary Assembly on June 24 in Strasbourg.