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PACE President Slams Baku Over Rights Record

The President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has harshly criticized Azerbaijani authorities over the country's human rights record.

Anne Brasseur, on a visit to Baku May 23, said the situation appears to have deteriorated in some areas, including freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly.

She said that was "more than worrying" as Azerbaijan is currently holding the chairmanship of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers.

Brasseur also said she hoped Azerbaijani human rights activist Ilqar Mammadov would soon be released.

Mammadov was recently jailed for seven years for organizing and taking part in mass protests in the northern town of Ismailli to demand the resignation of a provincial leader.

The European Court of Human Rights on May 22 described Mammadov's arrest as an "unjustified restriction of freedom."

With reporting by Reuters

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