Norway welcomes pardoning decree in Azerbaijan

'I am very pleased that a number of prisoners who have been prominent social activists and human rights defenders have today been pardoned in Azerbaijan. The work of activists such as these is essential for building a society based on human rights, democracy and the rule of law. I hope that they will now be able to continue their activities to the benefit of their country,' said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

Today, on the eve of the Novruz holiday, a large group of prisoners were pardoned by Azerbaijan's President, including a number of people whose imprisonment has been widely regarded as politically motivated. In one of the cases, that of Rasul Jafarov, this was confirmed by a judgment issued today by the European Court of Human Rights. However, some of the country's most well-known journalists, human rights lawyers and activists remain in prison.

'I strongly urge the Azerbaijani authorities to follow up today's pardoning decree by releasing the remaining defenders of fundamental rights who are still behind bars. Their contribution to promoting development based on values Azerbaijan has undertaken to uphold is needed more than ever,' said Mr Brende.