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Press briefing notes Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Press briefing note on Yemen update and Azerbaijan

16 June 2015

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Location:  Geneva
Date: 16 June 2015
Subjects:  (1) Yemen update and (2) Azerbaijan

(1) Yemen update

According to our team in Yemen a total of 50 civilians, including 18 children and 11 women, were killed during the period between 11 and 15 June. A further 111 civilians, including 20 children and 20 women, were reported injured. This brings the total number of civilians killed since 26 March to 1,412, including 210 women, with 3,423 injured.

At least 13 civilian public buildings were impacted, between 11 and 15 June bringing the total to 141 civilian public buildings partially or completely destroyed as a result of the armed conflict.

At least 14 civilians were reportedly killed as a result of violent clashes between local armed groups and military forces acting together against Al Houthi-affiliated Popular Committees in Lahij, Taiz, Dhale and Aden Governorates.  Another civilian was killed by an unknown source of fire.

At least 36 civilians were reportedly killed as a consequence of airstrikes carried out by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Sana’a, Hudaydah, Dhamar and Sada’a.

(2) Azerbaijan

We are concerned that a number of human rights defenders, journalists and Government critics have been deprived of their liberty in Azerbaijan for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, opinion, association and assembly.

High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has reached out to the authorities, including the President and Minister of Foreign Affairs, on a number of cases where such individuals are reportedly suffering from serious health problems. The High Commissioner has sought their release on humanitarian grounds. High Commissioner Zeid also seeks the release of all others who have been deprived of their liberty simply for exercising their human rights.

These cases are indicative of a shrinking democratic space in Azerbaijan, where many civil society actors, journalists and lawyers fear reprisals or legal and administrative obstruction in carrying out their important work. The closure of some media outlets is one symptom of a wider problem, as is the denial of entry to prominent journalists and a major international human rights organisation ahead of the European Games.

There is an urgent need to relax the legislative and administrative requirements concerning civil society organisations. Local and international NGOs must also be able to enjoy freedom of movement, including being allowed to monitor domestic trials that involve human rights defenders and journalists as well as to cooperate with international and regional human rights bodies and mechanisms without fear of reprisals.

We also call on Azerbaijani authorities to ensure due process and to prevent any interference with defendants’ rights to counsel. Administration of justice needs to be independent and accountable, with full respect for the international human rights obligations and commitments of Azerbaijan.

The Government of Azerbaijan has been giving due attention to social and economic rights in the country and working to deal effectively with the displaced population. We urge the authorities to give the same attention to ensuring respect for the rule of law and to urgently review all cases where people may have been deprived of their liberty for expressing dissenting views or otherwise exercising their fundamental rights.


For more information and media requests, please contact please contact Rupert Colville (+41 22 917 9767 / [email protected] ), Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / [email protected] ) or Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / [email protected])

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