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Azerbaijan: UN Rights Experts Concerned About Government Crackdown

United Nations, 28 October 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Experts from the UN Commission on Human Rights have expressed concern about reports of a crackdown by Azerbaijani authorities on demonstrators after presidential elections this month.

The experts -- five special rapporteurs on human rights -- released a statement today in response to reports that hundreds of demonstrators were harassed, attacked, and detained by Azerbaijani security forces.

They called on the Azerbaijani government to observe its obligations under international law to respect the right of free speech and to assemble and protest. They also said the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, subscribed to by Azerbaijan, forbids torture or cruel or inhuman treatment.

The experts' statement urges the government to investigate all reports of rights violations against demonstrators.

Earlier today, Azerbaijan's Constitutional Court officially confirmed Ilham Aliyev as the country's new president. He will succeed his father, Heidar, who is in a hospital in the United States.