13 members of the parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) were forced to leave their posts because they were accused of receiving gifts and bribes from the Azerbaijani government.
Earlier, there were several reports about the alleged efforts of Azerbaijan to improve the image of the country among the PACE members. The most recent was held by OCCRP and partners, and unveiled a proposed money laundering scheme involving $ 2.9 billion, which was used to transfer European politicians and to purchase luxury goods, OCCRP reports.
In response, PACE organized an investigation and wrote a report on the allegations of corruption in PACE. It was published on April 15. The report contains the evidence found and explains the relationship between the government of Azerbaijan and PACE, which dates back to 2001, when Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe. It sets out the ethical and legal standards of the Assembly, evaluates the results of the investigation and proposes the following steps.
The PACE report notes that one of its responsibilities is to investigate human rights records in member countries in order to promote strong national laws and sanction States that fail to comply. It specifically refers to the human rights problems with regard to the treatment of political prisoners in Azerbaijan.
The European stability Initiative (ESI) research center expressed concern over Azerbaijan’s role in the Council of Europe in the 2012 report “Ivernaya diplomacy”, as well as Azerbaijan’s attempts to silence criticism of the PACE of the country in exchange for gifts and money.
The second ESI report, published in 2013, linked this practice to the problem of political prisoners, when he noted the division in the Assembly between members who have supported the activities of Azerbaijani political prisoners in recent years and those who strongly condemned it.
It was found that the PACE members who left the organization established financial and commercial ties with Azerbaijan and relied on the government of Azerbaijan.
One member received 25,000 euros from a British company involved in the money laundering case, disclosed by the PSC, indicating that he may have been one of the members of PACE following the elections in Azerbaijan, and gave positive feedback to the Assembly.
The only member under investigation who was not expelled was Andreas gross from Switzerland.