The international community must not be duped by surface-level efforts to smooth out Azerbaijan’s human rights record, which remains dire, said Amnesty International in a report published today, ahead of this week’s inaugural Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe race in Baku.
“The arrival of the world’s premier racing series in Baku must not steer attention away from the government onslaught on civil society,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia.
“Behind the glitz lies an everyday reality in which authorities have shut down NGOs and arrested or harassed their leaders.”
Since the beginning of 2016, faced with falling oil revenues and rising international pressure, the Azerbaijani authorities have released several dozen prisoners. Among those released are twelve prisoners of conscience, including award-winning investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova.