A United Nations human rights agency on Friday joined the international community in expressing serious concern at the pardoning of an Azerbaijani soldier who axed an Armenian officer to death during a NATO training course in Hungary in 2004.
“We are seriously concerned about the case of Ramil Safarov,” Rupert Colville, the spokesman for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said, according to the AFP news agency.
“International standards regarding accountability for serious crimes should be upheld,” he told reporters in Geneva, insisting that “ethnically motivated hate crimes of this gravity should be deplored and properly punished - not publicly glorified by leaders and politicians.”
Amnesty International, a respected human rights organization, also criticized the Azerbaijani government for pardoning and giving Safarov a hero’s welcome in Baku,
saying that amounts to “an endorsement of ethnically-motivated violence.”
“By pardoning and then promoting Ramil Safarov, President [Ilham] Aliyev has signaled to Azerbaijanis that violence against Armenians is not only acceptable, but rewarded,” it said in a statement late on Thursday. “The Azerbaijani government should rescind any privileges awarded to Safarov and publicly condemn ethnic violence.”
Amnesty International also urged the Armenian government to “make clear that retaliation against ethnic Azerbaijanis is not acceptable.”