Mar 172016
 

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), established by the Council of Europe, is an independent human rights monitoring body specialised in questions relating to racism and intolerance. It is composed of independent and impartial members appointed on the basis of their moral authority and recognised expertise in dealing with racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance.

In the framework of its statutory activities, ECRI conducts country monitoring work, which analyses the situation in each of the member States regarding racism and intolerance and draws up suggestions and proposals for dealing with the problems identified.

Here is what the 2016 ERCI report on Azerbaijan says about recurrent hate speech towards Armenians:

25. Other sources confirm recurrent hate speech towards Armenians, which is connected with the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, the frequent ceasefire violations at the contact line and the resulting deaths and injuries. The Advisory Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (ACFC) for example noted “a persistent public narrative surrounding the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh identifying [in]variably Armenia or Armenians as ‘the enemy’ and openly promulgating hate messages”. According to other sources, there is a conflict-ridden domestic political discourse and Azerbaijan’s leadership, education system and media are very prolific in their denigration of Armenians. Political opponents are accused of having Armenian roots or of receiving funds from Armenian sources. An entire generation of Azerbaijanis has now grown up listening to constant rhetoric of Armenian aggression. According to a 2012 survey, 91% perceived Armenia as Azerbaijan’s greatest enemy. As a result, the Armenians living in the country need to hide their ethnic affiliation and there is no organisation of the Armenian minority in the country with which ECRI’s delegation could have met. The human rights activists Leyla and Arif Yunus, who worked inter alia towards reconciliation with Armenia, have been arrested and sentenced under controversial accusations to heavy prison terms. Both were conditionally released at the end of 2015.

[…]

38. ECRI has not received any official information about violent hate crime based on ethnic affiliation committed in Azerbaijan in the last five years, but, given the ongoing conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, ECRI is concerned that the on-going waves of hate speech create a risk of violence. In this connection ECRI expressed, in a press release of 4 September 2012, its consternation at the pardoning and release of Ramil Safarov, shortly after he had been transferred from Hungary to Azerbaijan in order to serve there a sentence of life imprisonment imposed by a Budapest court for the murder of an Armenian army officer in 2004. Moreover, Ramil Safarov was promoted to the rank of major, given a flat and the pay he had lost since his arrest in Hungary. In its press release, ECRI pointed out the risk that such action could cultivate a sense of impunity for the perpetrators of racist crimes of the most serious nature.


File: 2016 ERCI Report on Azerbaijan
Source: Publications, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Jun 162015
 

In the Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Chiragov and Others v. Armenia (application no. 13216/05) the European Court of Human Rights held, by a majority, that there had been:

a continuing violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property) to the European
Convention on Human Rights;

a continuing violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the Convention;
and

a continuing violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).

The case concerned the complaints by six Azerbaijani refugees that they were unable to return to their homes and property in the district of Lachin, in Azerbaijan, from where they had been forced to flee in 1992 during the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

There are currently more than one thousand individual applications pending before the Court which were lodged by persons displaced during the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

In the applicants’ case, the Court confirmed that Armenia exercised effective control over Nagorno- Karabakh and the surrounding territories and thus had jurisdiction over the district of Lachin.

The Court considered that there was no justification for denying the applicants access to their property without providing them with compensation. The fact that peace negotiations were ongoing did not free the Government from their duty to take other measures. What was called for was a property claims mechanism which would be easily accessible to allow the applicants and others in their situation to have their property rights restored and to obtain compensation.


Source: ECHR Case of Chiragov and Others v. Armenia
File: ECHR Case of Chiragov and Others v. Armenia

ECHR Press Release with the summary: Grand Chamber judgment Chiragov and Others v. Armenia – Azerbaijani refugees’ lack of access to property

Jun 162015
 

In the Grand Chamber judgment in the case of Sargsyan v. Azerbaijan (application no. 40167/06) the European Court of Human Rights held, by a majority, that there had been:

a continuing violation of Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property) to the European
Convention on Human Rights;

a continuing violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) of the Convention;
and

a continuing violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).

The case concerned an Armenian refugee’s complaint that, after having been forced to flee from his home in the Shahumyan region of Azerbaijan in 1992 during the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, he had since been denied the right to return to his village and to have access to and use his property there.

It was the first case in which the Court had to decide on a complaint against a State which had lost control over part of its territory as a result of war and occupation, but which at the same time was alleged to be responsible for refusing a displaced person access to property in an area remaining under its control.

There are currently more than one thousand individual applications pending before the Court which were lodged by persons displaced during the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

In Mr Sargsyan’s case, the Court confirmed that, although the village from which he had to flee was located in a disputed area, Azerbaijan had jurisdiction over it.

The Court considered that while it was justified by safety considerations to refuse civilians access to the village, the State had a duty to take alternative measures in order to secure Mr Sargsyan’s rights as long as access to the property was not possible. The fact that peace negotiations were ongoing did not free the Government from their duty to take other measures. What was called for was a property claims mechanism which would be easily accessible to allow Mr Sargsyan and others in his situation to have their property rights restored and to obtain compensation.


Source: ECHR Case of Sargsyan v. Azerbaijan
File: ECHR Case of Sargsyan v. Azerbaijan

ECHR Press Release with the summary: Grand Chamber judgment Sargsyan v. Azerbaijan – Armenian refugee’s lack of access to property

Sep 052012
 

Strasbourg, 05.09.2012 – “I join the international condemnation of the ‘glorification’ of the terrible crime which Mr Safarov has committed, and for which he has been condemned by a court in a Council of Europe member state,” Jean-Claude Mignon, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), said today. “His liberation is unacceptable, and I am extremely disappointed by the abusive use of a Council of Europe legal instrument in this affair.”

“This scandalous liberation is having very negative consequences on the already-strained relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and also risks destabilising the situation in the region. I call on the Azeri authorities to reconsider their position, in line with the standards and the ethos of the Council of Europe,” Mr Mignon concluded.


Source: CoE Parliamentary Assembly

Sep 042012
 

Strasbourg, 4/9/2012 – Commissioner Muižnieks expressed today his deep concerns about Azerbaijan’s decision to pardon and honour Ramil Safarov, an Azerbaijani army officer who in 2004 brutally murdered Armenian officer Gurgen Markaryan.

“Racist crimes must not go unpunished. Violent offences motivated by bias, such as racial or inter-ethnic hatred, are a particularly pernicious form of criminality. Apart from the destructive effects on the victims and those close to them, they can be devastating to whole communities and unravel the very fabric of society. States are under an obligation to apply strongly dissuasive sanctions against those who have perpetrated bias-motivated crimes.”

Moreover, the Commissioner deplored the fact that the convicted murderer has been glorified and rewarded by Azerbaijan. “It is already highly regrettable if someone who commits a gruesome murder motivated by the victim’s ethnicity or nationality is treated with a leniency not displayed towards others convicted of crimes. However, to glorify and reward such a person flies in the face of all accepted standards for human rights protection and rule of law. Such glorification of hate crimes can only send a message that others belonging to the same ethnic group as the victim, or indeed other members of vulnerable groups, are “fair game”. This is an extremely dangerous message.”


Source: CoE Commissioner for Human Rights

Sep 042012
 

Strasbourg, 4.9.2012 – The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) of the Council of Europe wishes to express consternation at the pardoning and release of Ramil Safarov, shortly after he had been transferred from Hungary to Azerbaijan in order to serve there a sentence of life imprisonment imposed by a Budapest court for the murder of a Armenian army officer in 2004.

ECRI’s position has always been that hate crime should be adequately punished. It is, therefore, concerned that developments such as those in the Safarov case risk cultivating a sense of impunity for the perpetrators of racist offences of the most serious nature. This could undermine in a fundamental manner the fight against racist violence, which unfortunately continues to plague many European countries.

ECRI is, in addition, apprehensive about the impact that the pardoning and release of Ramil Safarov might have on the general climate of opinion concerning the Armenian community in Azerbaijan. ECRI has repeatedly recognised the link between the harsh comments regularly made in this country about the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the discrimination that Armenians coming under Azerbaijan’s jurisdiction encounter in their daily lives. ECRI considers that, today more than ever, considerable efforts are needed on the part of the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure that these persons do not feel threatened.

ECRI wishes to draw the Azerbaijani authorities’ attention to the need to respect the values it has always promoted and to which they have subscribed when becoming a member of the Council of Europe. It urges them to take whatever measures are possible to redress the situation created by their handling of the Safarov case.


Source: European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)

Sep 042012
 

04/09/2012

Secretary General said that murder – such as that committed by Ramil Safarov – cannot be glorified

Strasbourg, 4 September 2012 – In a statement today the Council of Europe’s Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland said that murder – such as that committed by Ramil Safarov – cannot be glorified.
“Ramil Safarov was convicted for murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in Hungary. On August 31, he was transferred to Azerbaijan, and immediately pardoned. I do not want to comment on the legal proceedings, but I find it unacceptable that a convicted murderer is welcomed as a hero.”
“I reject the prospect of a world whose moral code begins to fray, where respect for human dignity is denied. This is not the Europe that we should wish for future generations. I condemn such glorification of crime, and urge that we all work to uphold the respect for life, and our values as defended by the Council of Europe”, he said.


Source: Council of Europe: Newsroom

Mar 312011
 

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) was established by the Council of Europe. It is an independent human rights monitoring body specialised in questions relating to racism and intolerance. It is composed of independent and impartial members, who are appointed on the basis of their moral authority and recognised expertise in dealing with racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance.

In the framework of its statutory activities, ECRI conducts country-by-country monitoring work, which analyses the situation in each of the member States regarding racism and intolerance and draws up suggestions and proposals for dealing with the problems identified.

Here is what the 2011 ERCI report on Azerbaijan says about discrimination against persons of Armenian origin:

98. As mentioned in other parts of this report, persons of Armenian origin are at risk of being discriminated against in their daily lives. Certain people born of mixed Armenian-Azerbaijani marriages choose to use the name of their Azerbaijani parent so as to avoid problems in their contacts with officialdom; others who did not immediately apply for Azerbaijani identity documents when the former Soviet passports were done away with today encounter difficulties in obtaining identity papers. These problems and the prejudice reigning within society with regard to Armenians also cause serious difficulties of access to social rights.

99. ECRI is still deeply concerned about the fact that the constant negative official and media discourse concerning the Republic of Armenia helps to sustain a negative climate of opinion regarding people of Armenian origin coming under the Azerbaijani authorities’ jurisdiction. This prejudice is so ingrained that describing someone as an Armenian in the media is considered by some people – including by certain Armenians themselves – to qualify as an insult that justifies initiating judicial proceedings against the persons making such statements. ECRI underlines the seriousness of this situation, where it seems that persons belonging to the group discriminated against in this way may themselves have interiorised this discriminatory attitude.

100. ECRI is moreover puzzled by the contradictory information it has received as to the number of persons of Armenian origin currently living in Azerbaijan. On the basis of the previous census, 120 700 Armenians were living in Azerbaijan in 1999. The authorities have indicated that the number of Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh or the areas affected by the conflict over it could be estimated at about 120 000, in line with the results of the last census carried out in the region during the Soviet era. Outside those areas, 700 people declared themselves as being of Armenian origin. In view of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and the areas affected by the conflict over it, it was again not possible to count the real number of Armenians living in this part of the country during the census carried out in 2009; the estimated figure of 120 000 will accordingly be deemed still current for these areas and only the figure of 700, corresponding to the number of persons actually counted in the remainder of Azerbaijani territory, is likely to change. ECRI points out that these explanations, albeit clear, differ strikingly from the figure of 30 000 Armenians living in the parts of Azerbaijan under the Azerbaijani authorities’ effective control, which is regularly cited by the authorities. ECRI considers that questions can be raised as to the reasons why less than 3% of those concerned are prepared officially to declare themselves as belonging to this group. Thought should be given, inter alia, to the measures that might be taken to eliminate the prejudices and stereotyping existing within the majority population that can give rise to discriminatory attitudes towards persons of Armenian origin.

101. ECRI refers to the recommendations made in other parts of this report concerning the need to adopt an appropriate response to all cases of discrimination and hate speech against Armenians, and to its recommendations concerning the application of the relevant legal provisions. It considers that the Azerbaijani authorities should actively contribute to generating a climate where all persons of Armenian origin living in Azerbaijan can declare their ethnic origin without fear.


File: 2011 ERCI Report on Azerbaijan
Source: Publications, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI)