US State Department issued the annual country report on human rights. It includes reference on the situation with human rights protection in Azerbaijan. The report, in particular said:
“During 2020, there were incidents of violence between Armenia and Azerbaijan which resulted in casualties and detentions. There were reports that Azerbaijani forces engaged in unlawful killings, and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of Armenian forces in September (2022). Complaints submitted by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the European Court of Human Rights accusing each other of committing atrocities during the fighting in 2020 and 2016 awaited the court’s ruling. Armenia submitted new complaints regarding the September fighting.
Other significant human rights issues included credible reports of: unlawful or arbitrary killing; torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by members of the security forces; harsh and sometimes life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary detention; political prisoners; politically motivated reprisal against individuals outside the country; pervasive problems with the independence of the judiciary; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious restrictions on free expression and the media, including violence against journalists, enforcement of criminal defamation laws to limit expression, and harassment and incarceration of journalists on questionable charges; serious restrictions on internet freedom, including blocking of websites; a de facto ban on the rights of peaceful assembly and substantial interference with freedom of association; restrictions on freedom of movement; severe restrictions on political participation; systemic government corruption; lack of accountability for gender-based violence, significant restrictions on workers’ freedom of association; and existence of the worst forms of child labor.
The government did not prosecute or punish the majority of officials who were reported to have committed human rights abuses and acts of corruption; impunity remained a problem. There was no reported progress on government investigations of alleged abuses committed by Azerbaijani armed forces or individuals during the 2020 and 2022 hostilities.
There were reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. Credible reports emerged regarding unlawful killings during the September intensive fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenian forces. The Office of the Prosecutor General is empowered to investigate whether killings committed by the security forces were justifiable and to pursue prosecutions. There were credible reports that Azerbaijani forces abused soldiers held in custody in connection with the September fighting. There also were reports the government prosecuted Armenian civilians and servicemembers it took into custody both during the fall 2020 hostilities and following the November 2020 cease-fire in trials that lacked due process.
Credible reports indicated that judges and prosecutors took instructions from the Presidential Administration and the Justice Ministry, particularly in politically sensitive cases. There were also credible allegations that judges routinely accepted bribes.
NGOs estimated there were approximately 100 political prisoners and detainees at year’s end. There were credible allegations the government used violence or threats of violence against individuals in other countries as politically motivated reprisal.
Following intensive fighting between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces in mid-September, there were credible reports of unlawful killings involving summary executions of Armenian soldiers in Azerbaijani custody (also see the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for Armenia).
In response to the release of a video on October 2 of such executions, the Azerbaijani government announced the military prosecutor’s office had launched an investigation. Later that month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that criminal cases were opened concerning perpetrators of crimes portrayed in the video with no further details.
Armenian authorities reported three Armenian civilians were killed and seven were wounded during the September fighting. Azerbaijani authorities reported three civilians were wounded.
On September 22, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued a report expressing concern regarding “allegations of severe and grave human rights violations committed during the 2020 hostilities and beyond by Azerbaijani military forces against prisoners of war and other protected persons of Armenian ethnic or national origin – including extrajudicial killings, torture and other ill-treatment and arbitrary detention, as well as the destruction of houses, schools and other civilian facilities.”
Videos were released shortly after the end of the intensive fighting in September that appeared to depict the bodies of three Armenian women service members who were victims of degrading and inhuman treatment. One of these videos depicted a nude and mutilated woman’s body placed above other corpses. While kicking her body, the Azerbaijani-speaking camera operator repeatedly directed abusive language towards the victim. A message had been written on her chest and stomach that read “YAŞMA” (a code name for Azerbaijani special forces).
The government continued to prosecute detained Armenian civilians and servicemen in public trials that lacked elements of due process such as the right to choose one’s own legal counsel. During the year, the government released 13 detained Armenian soldiers. According to the Armenian government, Azerbaijan held 33 Armenian detainees at year’s end”.