UPDATED: Three Norwegian human rights organisations have written to HRH Crown Prince Haakon asking to him to cancel his proposed visit to Azerbaijan.
Officials from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, the Human Rights House Foundation Oslo, and the Rafto Foundation the occasion could be seen as and official acceptance of President Ilham Aliyev’s harsh regime.
“We have tried to express our increasing concern about the human rights situation in Azerbaijan and how it is developing. Hundreds of people were arrested in recent peaceful anti-government protests, there has also been an increase in harassment, with attacks on civilians and journalists,” Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, tells The Foreigner.
Stressing that the committee is not criticizing the Crown Prince directly, Mr Engesland continues, saying, “we find it strange why the Norwegian government invited HRH, especially in light of recent statements about Azerbaijan from the EU, Council of Europe, and the US State Department.”
According to a Rafto Foundation spokesperson, “our main point with the statement is to make a distinction between the Crown Prince and the politicians travelling with him because they have different roles to play in the Norwegian political system.”
“Politicians are empowered to have discussions and promote political views, in contrast to the Royal Family. This makes it difficult for him to point out the human rights situation in Azerbaijan publicly,” he continues.
Crown Prince Haakon will be opening the annual Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition in Baku on Monday.