OSCE PA’s Santos welcomes release of Azerbaijan’s Arif Yunus on humanitarian grounds, calls for further steps

2014 AS Isabel Santos speakingIsabel SantosCOPENHAGEN, 12 November 2015 – The Chairperson of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, Isabel Santos (MP, Portugal), today welcomed the release of imprisoned Azerbaijani rights activist Arif Yunus, as ordered by the Baku Court of Appeals due to his deteriorating health.

In August 2015 Arif Yunus and his wife, Leyla Yunus, were sentenced to prison terms of 7 and 8½ years, respectively, on charges that included fraud and tax evasion.

Prior to their detention the Yunuses were both prominent activists with the unregistered Institute for Peace and Democracy, which defends political prisoners, exposes corruption and promotes people-to-people exchanges between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

“Today’s release of Arif Yunus is a rare but welcome piece of positive news in terms of the treatment of human rights defenders in Azerbaijan. I once again call on the Azerbaijani authorities to release Arif’s brave wife, Leyla, who remains behind bars despite poor health,” Santos said.

She noted that Arif Yunus remains restricted from leaving Baku.

Upon the couple’s sentencing in August 2015, Santos raised their serious health conditions and appealed to the authorities to release them both on humanitarian grounds. 

“Unfortunately, despite today’s release, the list of human rights defenders and government critics who have been made political prisoners in Azerbaijan remains long. Much more must be urgently done to bring human rights and rule of law back to the country,” she said.

Chairperson Santos reiterated her request to the Azerbaijani authorities to visit Leyla Yunus and other detained rights defenders and journalists in the country.

She expressed her continued openness to constructive engagement with Azerbaijan’s authorities on these and other human rights and democracy-related issues.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

  • Facebook
  • twir
  • in
  • inst
  • two
  • video