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Rights Group Urges Azerbaijan To Proclaim 'Zero Tolerance' Of Police Torture


Azerbaijani anticorruption blogger Mehman Huseynov is currently serving a two-year prison sentence after being convicted of libeling police when he said he had been beaten in custody. (file photo)

The New York-based Human Rights Watch has called on Azerbaijan to adopt a policy of "zero tolerance" of torture by police and other law enforcement officials.

President Ilham Aliyev's government should also "ensure prompt and effective investigations into all such allegations," HRW said in a July 25 statement.

The statement comes in the wake of a July 18 report by a committee of the Council of Europe that found that police torture in Azerbaijan is "systemic and endemic."

The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) conducted six visits to Azerbaijan between 2004 and 2017 and its report also highlights "corruption in the whole law enforcement system and impunity."

"It is high time that the Azerbaijani authorities took decisive action to stamp out torture in the country and implement to the fullest extent the committee's recommendations," CPT President Mykola Gnatovskyy said.

'Culture Of Violence'

The committee's report said that the body had "repeatedly observed" cases of torture and physical abuse during its visits, leading it to suspect "the existence of a generalized culture of violence among the staff of various law enforcement agencies."

The report also noted prison overcrowding, poor prison conditions, inadequate medical care for prisoners, and poorly paid prison staff.

The HRW statement added that the NGO's research in Azerbaijan has revealed that detainees are often denied access to legal representation and that "even if complaints are made of serious ill-treatment, the investigations almost never result in anyone being held to account."

Popular Azerbaijani anticorruption blogger Mehman Huseynov is currently serving a two-year prison sentence after being convicted of libeling police when he said he had been beaten by them in January 2017.

Last month, the Azerbaijani Supreme Court upheld Huseynov's conviction. His lawyers have said they will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

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