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Azerbaijan: UN expert’s visit to assess the situation of human rights defenders

GENEVA (9 September 2016) – United Nations Special Rapporteur, Michel Forst, will visit Azerbaijan from 14 to 22 September 2016 in an official mission to probe the situation of human rights defenders in the country.

The independent expert, mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to review the promotion and protection of human rights defenders in the world, will gather first-hand information on challenges facing the civil society in Azerbaijan and explore ways to widen democratic space. The visit will take place at the invitation of the Government of Azerbaijan.

“The right to defend human rights is a universal right,” the expert said. “This visit will allow me to assess to what extent the promotion of human rights is guaranteed in Azerbaijan, especially in a context of increasing constraints and challenges faced by civil society organizations. I look forward to having a constructive dialogue on ways to strengthen the democratic space and create an enabling environment for Azerbaijani rights defenders to carry out their valuable work.”

During his visit, the Special Rapporteur will meet with State officials, members of the judiciary, human rights defenders as well as representatives of civil society and the diplomatic community.

The Special Rapporteur’s final report will be presented in March 2017 to the Human Rights Council. He will share his preliminary findings and recommendations at a press conference on Thursday, 22 September from 11.30 am at the UN House Conference, 3, UN 50th Anniversary Street, Baku. Access to the press conference is limited to journalists.

ENDS

Mr. Michel Forst (France) was appointed by the Human Rights Council as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in 2014. Michel Forst has extensive experience on human rights issues and particularly on the situation of human rights defenders. In particular, he was the Director General of Amnesty International (France) and Secretary General of the first World Summit on Human Rights Defenders in 1998.

The UN human rights experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information, log on to:
Human rights defenders: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/SRHRDefenders/Pages/SRHRDefendersIndex.aspx

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Azerbaijan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/AZIndex.aspx
For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Geneva, before and after the visit: Jamshid Gaziyev (+41 79 4444 355 / jgaziyev@ohchr.org)
In Azerbaijan, during the visit: Jamshid Gaziyev (+41 79 4444 355 / jgaziyev@ohchr.orgor +994124970869)

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