The importance of Emin Huseynov’s work is shown by the prominence and variety of the voices that have come forward in his defence. The Council of Europe’s Human Rights Commissioner and the OSCE’s Representative on the Freedom of the Media quickly condemned the actions of Azerbaijan’s government against the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) and other NGOs in August 2014 as systematic and targeted repression.
After Switzerland’s public broadcaster broke the news about Emin Huseynov being held at Swiss embassy in Baku in Feburary 2015, a number of international organisations came forward to call for his continued protection so that the work of the IRFS can continue.
Council of Europe
On 7 August 2015, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muiznieks, shared his concerns about the arrest of Rasul Jafarov and the travel ban imposed on Emin Huseynov, describing the developments as a “disturbing illustration of how human rights defenders in Azerbaijan are systematically threatened with an instrumental use of criminal suits.”
In its groundbreaking resolution on media freedom in Europe calling for several CoE countries to remedy press freedom violations and to fulfill their legal obligations before the CoE, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) expressed concern over charges brought against Emin Huseynov.
On 8 August 2014, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović condemned the intensifying harassment of media freedom activists and organizations, including IRFS and its Chair Emin Huseynov. “The attempts to raid the IRFS office, intimidation of Emin Huseynov’s family and the imposed travel ban are further proof of a wide-scale deterioration of the media freedom situation in Azerbaijan that includes targeted persecution of independent journalists, freedom of expression advocates and bloggers,” Mijatović said. “I once again call on the authorities to stop the continued persecution of media and free voices in the country.”
International Media Support
Copenhagen-based International Media Support (IMS) is a non-profit organisation working to strengthen the capacity of media to reduce conflict, strengthen democracy and facilitate dialogue. IMS has worked with Emin and IRFS to bring attention to press freedom violations and improve Azerbaijan’s press freedom generally.
On 16 February 2015, IMS issued a statement expressing its concern “by reports that Emin Huseynov, Chairperson of the Azerbaijani media rights organisation Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety and Director of Objective TV, has been in hiding in the Embassy of Switzerland in Baku for almost six months.” IMS called on the Azerbaijani authorities to drop charges against Huseynov and provide for his safe passage from Azerbaijan.
IFEX – a global network of NGOs working in the field of free expression, of which IRFS is a member – has sent an appeal to the First Lady of Azerbaijan, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Mehriban Aliyeva, bringing up the unjust persecution of IRFS Chairman Emin Huseynov for his work as a journalist and human rights advocate and calling on Mrs. Aliyeva to do everything in her power to ensure Emin Huseynov is free to continue his work with IRFS without fear of reprisal.
Article 19 has called on the Azerbaijani government to drop the charges against Emin Huseynov and other imprisoned human rights defenders and journalists and to ensure that human rights organisations and journalists can safely carry out their legitimate work defending freedom of expression and fighting corruption.
Civil Rights Defenders
Civil Rights Defenders have released a statement regarding Huseynov seeking refuge at the Swiss Embassy in Baku urging the authorities to immediately drop the bogus charges brought against Emin Huseynov and IRFS.
Human Rights House Foundation
Human Rights House Foundation has drawn attention to the harassment of Emin Huseynov amid large-scale human rights crackdown in the country. Florian Irminger, Head of Advocacy at the Human Rights House Foundation (HRHF), has called on the Swiss Embassy in Baku to continue to host Emin Huseynov for humanitarian reasons, reminding that like the rest of human rights defenders in Azerbaijan, it is impossible for him to get fair trial from the country’s non-independent judiciary.
US Helsinki Commission
The US. Helsinki Commission has issued a statement and Helsinki Commission Chairman Chris Smith has appealed to President Aliyev to immediately allow Mr. Huseynov to leave the Swiss Embassy and give him safe passage out of Azerbaijan.
European Federation of Journalists
The European Federation of Journalists echoed the message about the ongoing plight of the harassed and ailing human rights defender Emin Huseynov, recalling previous physical attacks on the human rights defender.
Committee to Protect Journalists
The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Azerbaijani authorities to drop the criminal investigation of Emin Huseynov, “journalist and media freedom advocate, and allow him to work and travel without harassment and fear of arrest.”
Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project
“Activist Emin Huseynov, 35, a vocal critic of President Ilham Aliyev’s regime, has been trapped inside the embassy since Aug. 18 while a diplomatic standoff unfolds”, said the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project in a press release.
Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe
On 8 August 2014, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović deplored the intensifying harassment of media freedom activists and organizations, most recently the IRFS and Emin Huseynov. “The attempts to raid the IRFS office, intimidation of Emin Huseynov’s family and the imposed travel ban are further proof of a wide-scale deterioration of the media freedom situation in Azerbaijan that includes targeted persecution of independent journalists, freedom of expression advocates and bloggers,” Mijatović said. “I once again call on the authorities to stop the continued persecution of media and free voices in the country.”
Index on Censorship
On 18 March 2015, Index on Censorship dedicated a special Freedom of Expression Award to Azerbaijan’s persecuted activists and journalists:
The eyes of the world will soon again be fixed on Azerbaijan. The inaugural European Games – organised by Europe’s Olympic Committees – are coming to Baku this summer, not long after the capital last hosted an international mega-event, the 2012 Eurovision final. The line pushed by the regime, and parroted by their supporters at home and abroad, is that this is young and developing democracy on the right path. But three years on, the situation has not improved; on the contrary. This award is for Azerbaijanis continuing their struggle for freedom, rights and dignity – in the hopes that it will soon be won.