The Council of Europe has launched an official inquiry into Azerbaijan’s compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland said on December 16 the inquiry was initiated due to rulings from the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Jagland said ECHR judgements "have highlighted an arbitrary application of the law in Azerbaijan, notably in order to silence critical voices and limit freedom of speech."
Jagland said he was sending representatives to Azerbaijan to seek explanations from authorities there.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his government face mounting criticism from Western governments and international rights groups over Baku's broad crackdown on government critics during the past year.
The Council of Europe said inquiries are "rare."
The Baku probe marks the first time under Jagland.
Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe in 2001.
Members must ratify the European Convention on Human Rights, and are subject to rulings of the Strasbourg Court.