TBILISI (AFP)—Azerbaijan on Wednesday deported two activists from Amnesty International in a move the advocacy group denounced as an “attack on freedom of expression” in the lead-up to parliamentary elections.
It also came as Europe’s top rights watchdog withdrew from a task force with Azerbaijan, criticizing authorities in the oil-rich state where the rights situation has “deteriorated dramatically”, AFP reports.
In a statement, London-based Amnesty said two of its delegates, both Georgian nationals, were deported from Azerbaijan by immigration officials upon their arrival at the airport in Baku.
“The deportation of our staff adds to a sad litany of journalists and human rights defenders being targeted, detained and jailed simply for carrying out their work,” it said.
“There is no let-up in the government’s repressive campaign to stifle all criticism and dissent.”
Dissent is kept under strict control in ex-Soviet Azerbaijan, and opposition to President Ilham Aliyev is often met with a tough government response.
Earlier Wednesday, the Council of Europe said it was withdrawing from a human rights working group made up of government officials, members of parliament and human rights activists.