Azerbaijani Civil Society Letter to Members of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on Corruption

Country: azerbaijan
February 1, 2017

On January 16, 2017, leading members of Azerbaijani civil society issued a letter to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to conduct an independent investigation into corruption allegations against several of its Members. The letter is in response to an investigation by a Milan public prosecutor of former Vice President of PACE, Luca Volonte, “for allegedly accepting €2.9m in bribes,” in return for votes. In 2013, Volonte voted against endorsing the findings of the “Strasser” report, which detailed political prisoners’ situation in Azerbaijan. Council Members Elkhan Suleymanov and Muslim Mammadov allegedly bribed Volonte to vote in the interest of the Azerbaijani regime, and thus, against the report.

The Azerbaijani activists have called for PACE to conduct an investigation into the entire Azerbaijani delegation to the Council and suspend its members’ voting rights until they are vetted and “political prisoners are released.” The letter’s signatories have also requested reinstatement of a special rapporteur on political prisoners in Azerbaijan, appointment of an ethical commission to the Council, and expulsion of Suleymanov and Mammadov from the Council should allegations of bribery be substantiated. Since the letter was published, the current President of PACE Pedro Agramunt has called upon Azerbaijani authorities to release political prisoner and leader of the Republican Alternative Movement (REAL) Ilgar Mammadov, who remains detained. Read Journal of Democracy’s “Europe and Azerbaijan: The End of Shame” article by European Stability Initiative (ESI) President, Gerald Knaus, to learn more about the Azerbaijani government’s efforts to undermine the Council of Europe’s human rights initiatives.