Concerns over human rights abuses at hotels in Azerbaijan

Resource Centre press release - [PDF] Press Release: As Eurovision Song Contest approaches, concerns about hidden cameras in Azerbaijan hotel room, 16 May 2012


BBC News reports that secret videos of a sexual nature have been used to blackmail government critics in Azerbaijan – violating their right to privacy, and seeking to deter them from exercising their right to freedom of expression.  Some of the sexually explicit videos were filmed by hidden cameras placed in hotel rooms in Azerbaijan.  One victim said that visitors to Azerbaijan for Eurovision in May 2012 should be aware that cameras are sometimes planted in hotel rooms.


According to BBC in May 2011, following anti-Government protests, sexually explicit footage of two opposition journalists was broadcast on television.  Two separate videos showed the two activists engaging in sexual activity in the hotel rooms where they were staying for a conference.  The clips were broadcast on television, by a channel owned by a cousin of President Aliyev.


The Azerbaijani organization Free Youth (Azad Gənclik Təşkilatı) issued a statement in March 2012 warning tourists visiting the country not to have sex under any circumstances.  The statement warns that “hidden cameras are installed on the premises of all known and unknown hotels without exception. That which is recorded on these cameras can later be used against tourists for blackmail...”


Human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have raised concerns about the human rights situation in Azerbaijan in the lead-up to the Eurovision Song Contest.


Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has invited the following hotels to respond to these concerns about human rights abuses in hotel rooms in Azerbaijan, and to say what they are doing to prevent such abuses taking place on their premises.  We will post each response below, and will draw attention to any hotels that fail to respond.


Excelsior [DOC]
Hyatt [DOC]
Radisson/Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group [DOC]
Ramada/Wyndham Group [DOC]
Sheraton/Starwood Hotels & Resorts [DOC]