STRASBOURGt — The Council of Europe’s secretary-general, Thorbjorn Jagland, has decided to withdraw the council’s participation in the joint working group on human rights issues in Azerbaijan.

Jagland informed the Council of Europe’s committee of ministers, the organization’s decision-making body, of his decision on October 7.

Since October 2014, a council representative had been attending meetings in Baku intended to revive the dialogue between Azerbaijan’s authorities and civil society.

The working group included human rights defenders, members of Azerbaijan’s parliament, and officials of the presidential administration.

Despite this initiative, the Council of Europe said, “the overall situation of human rights defenders in the country has deteriorated dramatically.”

“An increasing number of human right defenders has recently been imprisoned, and the Council of Europe has received worrying reports about unacceptable detention conditions, the statement added.

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