The European Parliament has adopted a resolution on the case of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli who vanished from Tbilisi on May 29 and resurfaced in custody in Baku the next day.
The resolution welcomes that the Georgian Interior Ministry has launched an investigation into the case and started communication with its Azerbaijani counterparts on this matter.
However, it adds that Georgia is a state party to the European Convention on Human Rights and it is therefore Georgia’s responsibility to guarantee the safety of Azerbaijanis living on its territory and to prevent any forced return to their home country.
The resolution says that according to his lawyer, Mukhtarli was apprehended by unidentified men who were reportedly wearing Georgian criminal police uniforms, pushed into a car, beaten and driven to the Azerbaijani border, where the sum of EUR 10,000 was allegedly planted on his person.
"[The European Parliament] considers it of "utmost importance” that the Georgian authorities make every effort possible to clarify beyond any doubt all suspicion regarding the involvement of Georgian state agents in the forced disappearance”, the resolution says.
It also urges the Georgian authorities to ensure a prompt, thorough, transparent and effective investigation into Mukhtarli’s forced disappearance in Georgia and illegal transfer to Azerbaijan and to bring the perpetrators to justice.
"It is the responsibility of the Georgian authorities to provide protection to all those third-country nationals living in Georgia or requesting political asylum, who face possible severe judicial consequences in their country of origin for human rights or political activities”, it says.
The resolution calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against and release Mukhtarli, as well as all those incarcerated as a result of the exercise of their fundamental rights, including freedom of expression. It also calls, in the case of Mukhtarli, on the Georgian authorities to take all the necessary steps vis-à-vis the Azerbaijani authorities in order for him to be able to be reunited with his family.
Freelance investigative journalist Afgan Mukhtarli was reported missing by his wife in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on the evening of May 29. The next morning local media reported Mukhtarli had ended up in the custody of the Investigative Unit of the State Border Service of Azerbaijan in Baku.