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Budva, Montenegro 31.03.2015: Azerbaijan should immediately release Ilgar Mammadov who was wrongfully imprisoned on politically motivated charges, the Association of Schools of Political Studies of the Council of Europe (ASPS) said today in Budva.

The Association, which groups Heads of 21 Schools in Europe and North Africa, called on Azerbaijan to respect its commitments to the Council of Europe and implement the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights which found that the arrest and detention of their Azeri colleague in 2012 breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

The Azerbaijani Government must free Mammadov and all the other human rights defenders, journalists and opposition leaders illegally held in Azeri gaols on spurious charges before the forthcoming Baku Games, the Directors said. Failure to do so would bring both Azerbaijan and the European Games into disrepute.

The ASPS also condemned attempts to muzzle the media and intimidate NGOs in a number of Council of Europe countries including Turkey and Russia where the Foreign Agents legislation has forced the Moscow School to cease its activities.

Authoritarian acts of this nature undermine the most basic principles of democratic life and are in complete contradiction with the values of the Council of Europe, the ASPS said.

The Council of Europe and the European Union must ensure full respect for human rights including freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of the media and independence of the judiciary in all their member states, the Directors concluded.

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