The Council of Europe's human rights chief has harshly criticized Azerbaijani authorities over what he says is the deterioration of human rights and basic freedoms in the oil-producing Caspian Sea country.
The council's human rights commissioner, Nils Muiznieks, told RFE/RL on September 8 that a "wave of arrests of human rights defenders" had increased in recent months.
He said the sitation was "totally unacceptable" and "flies in the face of the human rights obligations undertaken by Azerbaijan" when it joined the 47-nation European human rights body.
In an e-mail interview, Muiznieks cited several cases in which Azerbaijani journalists and bloggers critical of the authorities have been jailed, persecuted, or humiliated.
"The few critical voices that are still outside the country’s detention facilities face mounting pressure and often had to leave the country, when not under a travel ban, and had their bank accounts frozen," Muiznieks added.