In November 2023, several journalists and a member of the administrative team from Abzas, an online investigative media focusing on human rights in Azerbaijan, were arrested by the country’s authorities. A few days later, Forbidden Stories, an international consortium of investigative journalists, announced that it was continuing Abzas’s work on several investigations in partnership with a dozen international media organisations including FRANCE 24.
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Alongside a consortium of investigative journalists, RFI and FRANCE 24 are continuing the investigations of imprisoned journalists from independent Azerbaijani news outlet Abzas Media. This work, published since Thursday, February 1 by a dozen partner media organisations* brought together by Forbidden Stories, lifts the veil on several cases embarrassing to Azerbaijani authorities. Members of the consortium worked on several investigations into international activities centred around a gold mine, acts of torture committed in the country’s prisons and presidential elections held amid international tensions.
Torture continues in Azerbaijan’s jails, but so does European cooperation
In the run-up to Azerbaijan’s February 7 presidential election, the repression of President Ilham Aliev’s opponents, as well as NGOs and independent journalists still active in the country, has intensified. Daniel Vallot, Karina Chabour and Roméo Langlois investigate the practice of torture in Azerbaijani detention centres. The journalists also examine the continuing cooperation between European institutions and the country’s judicial and prison systems.
Daniel Vallot, a journalist with RFI’s international service, and FRANCE 24 reporters Karina Chabour and Roméo Langlois conducted this investigation available on RFI’s evening news programme on Thursday, February 1 and in the morning of Friday, February 2, as well as on FRANCE 24 on Friday, February 2.
Western Azerbaijan’s Gedabek gold mine
The Gedabek gold mine, which has been operated by a British company since 2012, is a source of great tension in Azerbaijan. In June 2023, residents of Söyüdlü, in the western part of the country, held protests against plans to create a second lake to store waste from the mine. They believe that the first lake, located 400 metres from their village, is polluting the soil and water, and say that cyanide vapours are causing respiratory illnesses in the area. FRANCE 24 reporter Corentin Bainier collected the testimonies of activists and local residents and interviewed experts to shed light on the risks caused by this operation.
Bainier’s report will be available on the FRANCE 24 Observers website on Friday, February 2.
*Among others: The Guardian, Le Monde, RTS, IRPI (Italy) Le Monde, Radio France, Knack, Le Soir, NRC (Netherlands), ZDF (Germany), Der Standard (Austria)
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