‘You Don’t Kill a Story by Killing a Journalist’
Three years ago today, Corinne Vella received a call that would forever change her family, her life, and even her homeland, the small Mediterranean island of Malta.
A group of EU parliamentarians is calling for an investigation into reports that Azerbaijan bribed EU officials in return for nice reports about the country’s elections and human rights record.
In cooperation with Berlingske and other partners, the OCCRP uncovered that Azerbaijan’s elite was buying silence and praise from influential European figures while throwing around 90 activists, journalists and opposition politicians into prison on politically motivated charges.
Among the recipients were former Council of Europe members. The body is tasked with upholding human rights, democracy, and rule of law in member states.
Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe in 2001 but kept a poor human rights record among independent observers.
Initiated by the Greens, a group of EU parliamentarians has tried three times to table amendments to the body’s report on corruption and human rights in third countries with the Azerbaijan scandal in mind.
They never had the support of the political majority.
However, the publishing of the ‘Azerbaijani Laundromat’ on September 4 has given the initiative a new momentum.
The number of parliamentarians asking for a probe and for measures to prevent such corruption now rose to 95 and they are not all left-leaning.
They proposed a new amendment to the parliamentary report, requesting that the body “strongly denounces, following the recent ‘Azerbaijani Laundromat’ revelations, attempts by Azerbaijan and other autocratic regimes in third countries to influence European decision-makers through illicit means.”
The amendment also calls for a comprehensive Parliament investigation into such attempts by Baku and similar regimes as well as for “robust measures” to prevent such corruption.
The body will vote on Wednesday.