05:47, Thursday, 13.12.2018
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NGOs Respond to Forced Disappearance of Afgan Mukhtarli


The under signatory organizations express deep concern about the alleged forced disappearance of the Azerbaijani civil activist and journalist Afgan Mukhtarli in Tbilisi in the evening of May 29. According to the recent information provided by his lawyer, the journalist was detained near his house in Tbilisi and forcibly placed in the car. The lawyer said the people, who arrested the journalist, did not present themselves but Mukhtarli doubts they were representatives of the Georgian Special Forces. As the lawyer of Afgan Mukhtarli stated the unidentified people put a sack over his head and drove him by car in the unidentified direction during 2 hours. They changed the cars twice. Mukhtarli reported that in the third car people were speaking in Azerbaijani language. According to him, when the sack was removed, he was already in the Azerbaijani Custom’s Office. Mukhtarli said 10 000 EURO was planted on him. Azerbaijani Government accuses him in illegal crossing of the border and smuggling.
According to their statements, Afgan Mukhtarli and his wife, journalist Leyla Mustafaeva were subject of systemic persecution and intimidation from the side of the Azerbaijani government due to their journalistic activities and critical positions. Because of the persecution, including high risks of physical safety, the family decided to continue living and journalistic activities in Georgia. During their stay in Georgia they actively reported about business interests and corruptive schemes of the Azerbaijani authority and President Ilham Aliyev’s family as well as political persecutions in Azerbaijan. They said, due to active journalistic activities, the Government of Azerbaijan still had high interest in their work and continued their intimidation and surveillance even in Georgia. 
Unfortunately, the State of Georgia refused Leyla Mustafaeva, as well as few other Azerbaijani civil activists and journalists, to extend residence permit in the country based on abstract interests of the national security of Georgia. It is noteworthy that based on the recently established practice, Azerbaijani citizens, who are critical about the non-democratic political regime in their country, and continue their journalistic, civic or political activities in Georgia, receive negative answers from the Georgian state on residence permit or refugee status. It raises doubts about political loyalty of the Government of Georgia towards the Azerbaijani authority that significantly contradicts the fundamental principles of democracy and the idea of the respect of human rights. Instead creating safe and secure space in Georgia for the activists and journalists fled from the neighboring countries and promote development of democratic processes in the region, the Government of Georgia does nothing to defend rights of the refugees and violates their rights with illegal and discriminative decisions with its unprincipled and loyal politics.

Considering the political character of the fact and Afgan Mukhtarli’s allegation about the possible participation of the Georgian state authorities in his detention, we have well-grounded doubt that the Azerbaijani journalist could not have been arrested in the territory of Georgia and transported to Azerbaijan without at least demonstrative inactivity and ineffective work of the Georgian state institutions if not their support and direct participation in it. In this regard, it is particularly suspicious that the Azerbaijani citizen crossed the border without ID documents. Having well-grounded risks that Afgan Mukhtarli may become subject of torture, inhuman treatment or punishment and victim of political persecution in Azerbaijan, the State of Georgia did not guarantee the safety and inviolability of the persons who were under its control and even participated in the illegal activities. It causes our deep concern and violates the obligations of Georgia under international conventions and acts. Neglecting basic guarantees of human rights from the side of the Georgian state destroys fundamental principles of democracy and lawful state.

Considering the abovementioned, we call on

The Government of Georgia
to immediately make public statement to respond to the allegations about possible participation of the Georgian government’s representatives in the illegal restriction of freedom and delivery of the journalist to the Azerbaijani authority or react on the doubts about clear inactivity of the Georgian authority with regard to this fact;

to inevitably respect the human rights guaranteed under the international conventions and the national legislation and to ensure defense of the right to lawful life, free movement and inviolability of the persecuted activists, journalists, politicians or others fled from the neighboring country residing in Georgia;

The Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia
To ensure effective, timely and impartial investigation into illegal restriction of freedom of Afgan Mukhtarli. It is essential to study the alleged participation of the official representations of the Georgian state in this fact (including the officers of the State Security Service and Border Police) and to impose respective responsibilities on them. The case shall be investigated by the prosecutor’s office to ensure institutional independence of the investigation.

Due to high public interest in this fact, to ensure timely reporting to the society about the investigation progress and results;

The Parliament of Georgia
to ensure effective parliamentary control over the Afgan Mukhtarli’s case and abovementioned systemic problems in the government, particularly in the law-enforcement bodies and Security Service and to take respective measures to respond to them. 

  • Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
  • Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)
  • Human Rights House Tbilisi (HRHT)
  • Human Rights House Foundation (Norway)
  • Transparency International – Georgia (TI)
  • Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA)
  • UN Association of Georgia (UNAG)
  • International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
  • Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)

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