Rep. Dina Titus

US Congress is preparing bill on sanctions against group of Azerbaijani government officials

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WASHINGTON — A bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers led by Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) is planning to introduce the first-ever Azerbaijan Sanctions Review Act this week, Azerbaijani media’s Washington correspondent has learned from Congressional sources.

The draft bill would lead to the sanctioning of more than 40 Azeri officials who have played an active and chief role in undermining the rule of law and human rights in the country.

The bill would require the Biden administration to determine within 180 days of its passage whether a list of Azeri officials included in the bill qualify for sanctions under existing U.S. legislations including the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, as well as the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act.

The ‘‘Azerbaijan Sanctions Review Act of 2024’’ highlights the Aliyev government’s brutal repression of domestic political opposition as “grave concern” for the human rights of Azerbaijanis.

“The detention and subsequent torture and ill-treatment of opposition leaders, activists, and critics of the Aliyev government like Dr. Gubad Ibadoghlu, a prominent scholar who taught in the United States, raises fundamental concerns about due process and the integrity of the legal proceedings against him and others who express political dissent in Azerbaijan,” reads the draft bill.

The authors go on to highlight that on March 6, 2024, Azerbaijani authorities detained six journalists in Baku and accused them of unfounded smuggling charges as part of an ongoing crackdown on independent media in Azerbaijan

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The bill also speaks about Armenian prisoners, noting that Azerbaijan’s “continued detainment, torture, extrajudicial execution, and other serious human rights violations against prisoners of war and captured civilians calls into serious question their commitment to human rights and ability to negotiate an equitable, lasting peace settlement.”

The list of Azerbaijani high-ranking officials to be sanctioned in the bill includes a cross-section of government ministers, judges and prosecutors at all levels responsible for the ongoing political persecution of Azerbaijan’s pro-democracy activists.

 

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