Afgan Mukhtarli. Photo: facebook.com/efqan.muxtarli
The European Parliament adopted at its Plenary Sitting on June 15 a resolution on the alleged abduction of Afgan Mukhtarli, an Azerbaijani investigative journalist, who went missing on May 29 from Tbilisi and appeared in a detention facility in Baku a day later.
The resolution, titled “The Case of Afgan Mukhtarli and Situation of Media in Azerbaijan” and co-sponsored by 93 MEPs, calls for immediate release of “of all political prisoners” in Azerbaijan and “strongly condemns the abduction of Afgan Mukhtarli in Tbilisi and his subsequent arbitrary detention in Baku, considers this a serious violation of human rights and condemns this grave act of breach of law.”
The European Parliament “strongly condemns the prosecution of Afgan Mukhtarli following bogus charges” and “calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against and release Afgan Mukhtarli,” the document reads.
Specifically on Georgia, the resolution urges the Georgian authorities to ensure “a prompt, thorough, transparent and effective investigation into Afgan Mukhtarli’s forced disappearance in Georgia and illegal transfer to Azerbaijan” and calls on the Georgian government “to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Recalling the statements of Afgan Mukhtarli’s lawyer that he was “apprehended by unidentified men who were reportedly wearing Georgian criminal police uniforms,” the resolution stressed the “utmost importance that the Georgian authorities make every effort possible to clarify beyond any doubt all suspicion regarding the involvement of Georgian state agents in the forced disappearance.”
The document also says that under the European Convention on Human Rights Georgia is responsible for guaranteeing the safety of Azerbaijanis living on its territory and for preventing “any forced return to their home country.”
“[The European Parliament recalls that] it is the responsibility of the Georgian authorities to provide protection to all those third-country nationals living in Georgia or requesting political asylum, who face possible severe judicial consequences in their country of origin for human rights or political activities.”
MEPs also stressed that the Georgian authorities need “to take all the necessary steps vis-à-vis the Azerbaijani authorities in order for him to be able to be reunited with his family.”