Sep 062012
 

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
PUBLIC STATEMENT
AI Index: EUR 55/ 015/2012
6 September 2012

Azerbaijan: Government sends dangerous message on ethnically-motivated violence

Amnesty International is concerned that the actions of the Azerbaijani government following the extradition of Armed Forces Lieutenant Ramil Safarov will be perceived as an endorsement of ethnically-motivated violence.
The organization is concerned that these actions will ignite existing tensions between Azerbaijanis and Armenians and encourage further ethnically-motivated violence. It called on the governments of both countries to publicly condemn violence based on ethnicity.

Safarov, who by his own admission all but decapitated another man in part because he was Armenian, was pardoned and then promoted to Major by President Aliyev following his release from prison on Friday.
By pardoning and then promoting Ramil Safarov, President Aliyev has signalled to Azerbaijanis that violence against Armenians is not only acceptable, but rewarded.
The Azerbaijani government should rescind any privileges awarded to Safarov and publicly condemn ethnic violence. The Armenian government must also make clear that retaliation against ethnic Azerbaijanis is not acceptable.

Safarov was sentenced to life in prison by a Budapest Court in 2006 for murdering Armenian soldier Gurgen Margaryan.

The two were attending a NATO English language course in Hungary in February 2004 when Safarov broke into Margaryan’s dormitory and attacked him with an axe as he slept, inflicting 16 blows to the head and neck which almost severed Margaryan’s head.

Safarov admitted to the murder, claiming that Margaryan had insulted his country’s flag. The court found no evidence to support this claim. He said he was sorry he had not had the opportunity to kill any Armenians earlier.
He also said that he was seeking revenge for the death of Azerbaijanis during the 1988 – 1994 conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

At the time Azerbaijani human rights Ombudswoman Elmira Suleymanova called the sentence “unjust” and said she hoped that Safarov could be extradited to Azerbaijan.

The Azerbaijani press, including state-owned media outlets, reported on the case as though Safarov was a national hero.

On Friday 31 August, the Hungarian government allowed Safarov to be extradited back to Azerbaijan, claiming to have received assurances that he would serve the remainder of his sentence.

On his arrival in Baku, Safarov was pardoned, promoted to Major, given back pay for the eight years he had spent in prison and awarded a house.


Source: Amnesty International

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

Sep 032012
 

The decision of the Azerbaijani authorities to pardon and release from liability Ramil Safarov, extradited from the Republic of Hungary,  runs contrary to the international law and questions the viability of the interstate crime suppression system.

This move is clearly made for the sake of political goals and cannot be justified in any way. Moreover, the glorification of criminal will only serve to the  increase of already high regional tension.

I am convinced that the international community will not hesitate to make an objective assessment of what happened.


Source: CSTO [Original statement is in Russian. Translated to English by Karabakhfacts.com]

Sep 032012
 

PRESS RELEASE

OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs meet with the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan

PARIS, 3 September 2012 – The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group (Ambassadors Robert Bradtke of the United States of America, Igor Popov of the Russian Federation, and Jacques Faure of France) and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, met on September 2 with the Foreign Minister of Armenia, Edward Nalbandian, and on September 3 with the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, Elmar Mammadyarov, to address recent events in the region and efforts to peacefully resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The Co-Chairs discussed with the two Ministers the August 31 decision of the Government of Azerbaijan to pardon Ramil Safarov, an Azerbaijani army officer who had been serving a life sentence in Hungary for the brutal 2004 murder of an Armenian officer in Budapest. They expressed their deep concern and regret for the damage the pardon and any attempts to glorify the crime have done to the peace process and trust between the sides.

The Co-Chairs reiterated to both Ministers that, as their Presidents stated in Los Cabos on June 19, there is no alternative to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. They will continue to maintain contacts with the sides to reduce tensions and advance the peace process.


Source: OSCE Minsk Group page

Sep 032012
 

 

In Russia, which is the co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement, received reports with deep concern regarding the clemency of Baku Azeri serviceman Ramil Safarov, who was sentenced to life imprisonment for the commission of the murder of an Armenian officer with an extreme atrocity in Hungary in the 2004, as well as regarding the preceded decision of the Hungarian authorities to extradite him to Azerbaijan.

We believe that these actions of Azerbaijan, as well as the Hungarian authorities to run counter to the efforts agreed at international level, particularly through the OSCE Minsk Group, directed to reduce tension in the region.

We also expect that appropriate assessment of the situation will be given by the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in the near future.

3 September, 2012


Source: MFA of Russia: 1. in English; 2. in Russian.

Sep 032012
 

EUROPEAN UNION

Brussels, 3 September 2012
A 389/12

Statement by the spokespersons of EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Commissioner Štefan Füle on the release of Ramil Safarov

The spokespersons of Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission and Štefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, issued the following statement today:

“The High Representative and Commissioner Füle are concerned by the news that the President of Azerbaijan has pardoned Azerbaijani army officer Ramil Safarov, who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Armenian Army officer Gurgen Margaryan in Budapest in 2004.

Ramil Safarov was transferred from Hungary to Azerbaijan on 31 August on the basis of an Azerbaijani request, in the framework of the Convention of Strasbourg on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons of 21 March 1983, to serve the rest of his sentence. EU representatives are in contact with the relevant authorities and will continue to follow the situation closely.

In the interest of regional stability and on-going efforts towards reconciliation, the High Representative and Commissioner Füle reiterate their call on Azerbaijan and Armenia to exercise restraint, on the ground as well as in public statements, in order to prevent an escalation of the situation.”


Source: European External Action Service – A 389/12

Sep 032012
 

Azerbaijan – Pardon granted to M.Safarov – Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman (September 3, 2012)

France expresses her concern following the announcement of the pardon granted to M. Safarov by the Azerbaijani authorities on Friday, 31 August. In Hungary in 2006 the Hungarian courts sentenced him to life imprisonment for the unspeakable murder of an Armenian officer in Budapest in 2004.

France, who, like the other co-chairs of the Minsk Group, is strongly committed to a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, believes that this decision risks seriously damaging the negotiation efforts and the establishment of a climate of trust between the parties.


Source: France Diplomatie: 1. in English; 2. in French.