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Rights policies in Azerbaijan questioned

Oct. 23, 2012 at 12:31 PM

BERLIN, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Human Rights Watch expressed concern about the way authorities in Azerbaijan responded to peaceful protests against the government.

The rights organization said more than a dozen activists were given light prison sentences in connection to an opposition protest last weekend. Protesters gathered Saturday in Baku calling for a new government after evidence surfaced that suggested the ruling party was involved in corruption during a 2005 election.

Giorgi Gogia, a regional specialist for Human Rights Watch, said from Berlin that Baku was trampling on the rights to peaceful protest.

"The authorities should immediately release the protesters and investigate any allegations of ill-treatment by law enforcement," he said in a statement.

In May, members of the European Parliament called on Azerbaijan to end its suppression of human rights, adding Baku must get in line with international standards.

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