Human rights defenders called on Azerbaijan and Tajikistan not to block OSCE appointments

Dozens of press freedom watchdogs are calling on Azerbaijan and Tajikistan to abandon attempts to block the reappointment of a leading OSCE human rights official.

International human rights organisations have praised French diplomat Arlem Desir, the OSCE’s designated press freedom representative, as a strong advocate of press freedom in OSCE countries.

At the end of June, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, which is part of the OSCE, blocked the preliminary extension of the mandates of all OSCE senior officials.

sent a letter of protest over the expected reappointment of Desir.

On Friday, some 30 international organisations, led by London Article 19, sent an open letter to officials in Azerbaijan and Tajikistan condemning their attempts to “weaken the important oversight function” of the OSCE mandate.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, media freedom is more important than ever,” said dozens of signatories, including Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom, Freedom House and the European Federation of Journalists.

“We urge the governments of Azerbaijan and Tajikistan and all OSCE participating States to fulfil their international obligations and support the extension of the Dezir mandate until 19 July,” the letter said.

Since the OSCE structure is based on the principle of consensus, even one vote against it can disrupt the appointment.