Koenders expresses serious concern about human rights situation in Azerbaijan

Foreign minister Bert Koenders has strongly condemned the lengthy prison term handed down to human rights activists Leyla and Arif Yunus by an Azerbaijani court. ‘This judgment comes as a shock to friends and family, not least to the couple’s daughter, who lives in the Netherlands,’ said the minister.

The minister is seriously concerned about Azerbaijan’s declining respect for human rights. ‘Azerbaijan must honour its international obligations and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms,’ the minister noted. The Netherlands will convey this message to Baku, both within the EU and in bilateral contacts with the Azerbaijani government. The Netherlands was present during the trial as an observer. Mr Koenders believes it is important for Azerbaijan to ensure that foreign observers have access to legal proceedings. ‘A key component of respecting the rule of law is an open and transparent judicial process,’ Mr Koenders remarked. Today, EU member states, including the Netherlands, issued a joint statement calling for a review of the case and the release of the Yunuses.