South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders

Saytda axtarış
azerbaijan: STATEMENT
27 September 2010


of members of the South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders  on authorities’ illegal interference with the activities of the civil society organizations in the regions of Azerbaijan

Members of the South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders condemn the Azerbaijani local authorities´ interference with the events organised by the civil society actors and call on the authorities to respect the right to assembly and association and freedom of expression. 

On the eve of parliamentary elections the number of illegal interferences by the executive authorities and law enforcement bodies of the regions with the educational and other events conducted by civil society institutions in the regions has increased. Executive authorities of the most regions unlawfully require the NGOs to get permission from them for conducting such events, and in case of non-compliance with their requirements create obstacles to such events by even deployment of police forces. 

Only few of the violations committed by the local authorities against the civil society organizations in the regions are listed below:
• Human rights defender Intiqam Aliyev, who is a coordinator of the Azerbaijani Network of Human Rights Defenders in the South Caucasus as well, was not allowed to attend the regional forum of human rights defenders in Ganja held by the same Network on 19 August 2010. Unofficially, it was mainly explained with the fact that the days before that forum Intiqam Aliyev attended the training held in Ganja on electoral rights as an expert.
• The executive bodies and police offices of the regions called Ganja, Sabirabad and Zardab caused huge obstacles to running the trainings on electoral issues. On the day of training, that is, on 8 August 2010 the owner of venue of the training refused to grant the venue for training to the Legal Education Society (LES) by explaining this with the warning of the local executive authority, thus, LES was forced to run the training in one of the NGO centers which had very limited conditions as a training venue. The same happened on 21 September 2010 in Zardab as well. Among other NGOs Public Union of Law and Development as well faced the same problems in most regions, including Sabirabad.
• Members of the Kura Civil Society Headquarters were illegally detained by police at Sabirabad on 25.08.2010, when they were collecting the reliable information, data about the damage sustained and amount of the compensation paid to citizens by relevant state bodies in the natural disaster zone in Sabirabad, Imishli and Saatli.

The duty of executive authorities and law-enforcement agencies is to respect and provide the rule of law. The activities of those bodies should not make the NGOs and other civil society institutions, as well as human rights defenders abstain from investigations, which are important and beneficial for society, also from obtaining and imparting reliable information.

According to the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, “everyone has the right, individually and in the association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels.”

According to the Article 22 of the Law of Azerbaijan Republic on Non-Governmental Organizations (Public Associations and Public Funds), non–governmental organizations (NGOs) are entitled to carry out any activity provided that it is not prohibited by the legislation of Azerbaijan Republic and is not contrary to the purposes of NGO stipulated in the latter’s charter, within and outside of the country. According to Article 28 of the same Law, rights of non-governmental organizations are protected by all the state bodies. NGOs are entitled to act independently in the framework of the legislation.

Pursuant to the Articles 47 and 50 of the Constitution, Law on Obtaining Information and other legislative acts everyone is free to seek, obtain, and share with the society through the ways not prohibited under the laws.

The national legislation does not contain any provision on getting prior consent from the executive bodies for holding trainings, seminars and other meetings by the civil society institutions. Without such consents, the local authorities threaten the organisers of the trainings or owners of the venues in order to hinder such events. On the eve of the parliamentary elections, the above-mentioned interference has increased in the regions.

South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders considers such administrative practice used by the state bodies as violation of rights provided for by the national legislation and international obligations incumbent on Azerbaijan.

Members of the South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders urge the Government
• to avoid interference with the human rights and freedoms,
• to establish appropriate conditions for the civil society to realize their rights and freedoms without any obstacles
• to comply with all the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders




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