Azerbaijani journalist abducted in Georgia, lawyer says

Leyla Mustafayeva, wife of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who was abducted in Tbilisi on May 29 and now is in detention in Baku, attends a rally in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov)
Updated 31 May 2017
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Azerbaijani journalist abducted in Georgia, lawyer says

BAKU, Azerbaijan: An independent Azerbaijani journalist has been abducted from Georgia, where he had been living, and forcibly taken to Azerbaijan, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
A court in this former Soviet republic was due to hold a hearing later on Wednesday to arrest Afgan Mukhtarli, who is facing charges of smuggling and crossing the border illegally.
Mukhtarli, who is also a civil rights activist, had been living in neighboring Georgia for two years. His lawyer, Elchin Sadigov, told The Associated Press the journalist was abducted outside his home Monday evening, beaten up and taken to the land border between Azerbaijan and Georgia. Sadigov claimed that the journalist’s captors planted 10,000 euros ($11,180) on him, which led to the charges.
Eldar Sultanov, spokesman for the Azerbaijani Prosecutor General’s Office, said the journalist was detained late on Monday “after illegally crossing the Azerbaijani border” with a large sum of money.
Mukhtarli left Azerbaijan in 2015, around the time when several Azerbaijani journalists working for foreign or local independent media faced charges of tax evasion.
Mukhtarli’s wife, Leila Mustafayeva, told the AP she was waiting for her husband at home Monday evening but he never showed up. Mustafayeva said her husband had been investigating Georgian business ties of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s family.
“Naturally, this created resentment in the presidential family,” she said, insisting that her husband’s disappearance is connected to his investigation.
Several dozen journalists rallied in the capital, Tbilisi, demanding that Georgian authorities explain how they allowed the reported abduction to happen.
Giorgi Gogia, Human Rights Watch director of South Caucasus, in a statement described Mukhtarli’s disappearance as another step in the Azerbaijani government’s “relentless crackdown on critics.”


HRW denounces Angola expulsion of 400,000 Congolese

Updated 30 min 11 sec ago
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HRW denounces Angola expulsion of 400,000 Congolese

  • Government has claimed that smuggling was organized by irregular migrants
  • The migrants have accused Angolan security forces of physical and sexual abuse

JOHANNESBURG: A global rights watchdog on Thursday called on Angola to halt mass deportations after more than 400,000 migrants mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo fled or were expelled from Angola in just weeks.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) says migrants have been targeted in a massive operation targeting diamond smuggling.
Without producing evidence, the government of President Joao Lourenco has claimed that smuggling was organized and controlled by irregular migrants.
“Angola should stop forcing people to leave the country until it can provide individual assessment and due process guarantees to distinguish irregular migrants from refugees and registered migrant workers,” said Dewa Mavhinga, the HRW southern Africa director in a statement.
In a report, HRW said the government “should immediately suspend the deportation of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, conduct a prompt and impartial investigation into alleged abuses by state security forces.”
The migrants have accused Angolan security forces of physical and sexual abuse that feed a climate of fear and intimidation.
Angola is the world’s fifth-largest diamond producing country.
HRW pointed to UN reports that Angolan security forces and allied youth militias from the ethnic Tshokwe group, shot dead at least six Congolese last month during an operation in Lunda North province bordering Congo.
The government has vehemently denied that its security forces committed abuses during “Operation Transparency.” But the Angolan ambassador to the DRC, Jose Joao Manuel, has said his government was willing to investigate the allegations, according to HRW.
The rights group also expressed fears that the sudden return of tens of thousands of refugees and migrants risked further destabilising southern Congo in the wake of national elections set to take place on December 23.
DR Congo has an abundance of mineral wealth but is rocked by unrest unleashed by rebel groups and militias from within and neighboring nations such as Uganda and Rwanda.
Oil-rich Angola attracts hordes of Congolese as it is relatively stable and offers better employment prospects.
Angola and DR Congo share a 2,500-kilometer (1,550-mile) land border, the longest in Africa.