COUNCIL OF EUROPE
Compliance with obligations and commitments by Azerbaijan
Rapporteur AGRAMUNT, Pedro (Spain, EPP / CD) GRECH Debono, Joseph (Malta, SOC)
Translated into English
December 20, 2012
Compliance with obligations and commitments by Azerbaijan Report1
Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member
States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee) Mr. Pedro
AGRAMUNT Spain European People’s Party Mr Joseph Debono Malta GRECH
Socialist Group Summary
The Monitoring Committee recognizes the progress made by Azerbaijan in
establishing the legislative framework in areas critical to the
functioning of democratic institutions since its accession to the
Council of Europe. However, the restrictive or violations of certain
laws raise growing concerns about the rule of law and respect for
The lack of independence of the judiciary is a problem. The situation
as regards fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression,
freedom of assembly and freedom of association is worrying. The
Committee is alarmed by the information from defenders of human rights
and national and international NGOs according to which charges were
allegedly fabricated against activists and journalists. Implementing
restrictive of freedom combined with a lack of fairness and undue
interference of the executive lead to the systematic detention of
persons who may be considered as prisoners of conscience. Alleged
cases of torture and other ill-treatment in police and impunity are
also a cause of serious concern.
Progress in the establishment of a legislative framework to fight
against corruption and organized crime are undeniable, but the main
difficulty lies in its effective implementation.
¢ Draft resolution. ¢ Explanatory memorandum by Mr Agramunt and Mr
Debono Grech, co-rapporteurs. ¢ Introduction. ¢ Geopolitical situation
in the country. ¢ Background and regional geopolitics. ¢ Conflict over
Nagorno-Karabakh. ¢ Relations with the European Union. ¢ Signature and
ratification of the Council of Europe. ¢ Economic and social
situation. ¢ Political situation. ¢ Operation of pluralist democracy.
¢ Free and fair elections. ¢ Pluralism parties. ¢ Separation and
balance of powers. ¢ Local and Regional Democracy. ¢ rule of law. ¢
Judiciary. ¢ Corruption and organized crime. ¢ Execution of judgments
of the European Court of Human Rights. ¢ Human rights and fundamental
freedoms. ¢ Prisoners alleged political and humanitarian problems. ¢
Conditions of detention and violations committed by the security
forces. ¢ Freedom of expression. ¢ Freedom of assembly. ¢ Freedom of
association. ¢ Demolition of housing. ¢ Freedom of conscience and
religion. ¢ Replacement Service. ¢ Protection of minorities,
xenophobia and intolerance. ¢ The institution of the Ombudsman. ¢ –
Table of legislation introduced by Azerbaijan towards achieving its
commitments as set out in Notice 222 (2000) of the Parliamentary
Assembly on the application for membership of Azerbaijan to Council of
Europe. ¢ – Dissenting opinion of MM. Davit Harutyunyan (Armenia, EDG)
and Armen Rustamyan (Armenia, SOC), members of the Monitoring
A. Draft resolution2
1. Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe on 21 January 2001. Upon
accession, it is committed to comply with the obligations of Article 3
of the Statute of the Council of Europe requires each Member State
concerning pluralist democracy, the rule of law and human rights. He
also made a number of specific commitments listed in Opinion No. 222
(2000) of the Parliamentary Assembly on the application for membership
of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe.
2. Accordance with the monitoring procedure established in Resolution
1115 (1997) and amended by Resolutions 1431 (2005) and 1515 (2006),
the Assembly reviewed progress made by Azerbaijan in the performance
of its obligations and commitments in Resolutions 1305 (2002) and 1545
(2007) on the honoring of obligations and commitments by Azerbaijan
and Resolutions 1358 (2004), 1398 (2004), 1456 (2005), 1614 (2008) and
1750 (2010) on the functioning of democratic institutions in
3. The Assembly recognizes the geopolitical context of Azerbaijan,
which is located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, situated
between Russia, Iran and Armenia, and inhabited by a population whose
overwhelming majority is Muslim. It is also well aware of the
continuing conflict with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict,
confrontation, which dominates a large extent on the agenda of the
foreign policy of Azerbaijan. The Assembly regrets that negotiations
have so far given no tangible results and that the resolutions of the
Parliamentary Assembly, the European Parliament, the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of UN
Security have still not been implemented.
4. The Assembly recalls with satisfaction that the authorities have
expressed their pro-European aspirations and pursued a policy of
integration with Euro-Atlantic structures. Relations with the European
Union are governed by the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation
between the European Union and Azerbaijan. In addition, Azerbaijan
participates in the European Neighbourhood Policy since its launch in
2004, contributes to the Eastern Partnership since 2009 and is a
founding member of Euronest.
5. Since its accession, Azerbaijan has made significant progress on
the signing and ratification of legal instruments of the Council of
Europe. Azerbaijan has signed and ratified all instruments except one,
included in its schedule. The Assembly calls on Azerbaijan to ratify
the remaining European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
(ETS No. 148), which was signed in 2001.
6. Progress has clearly been made in the establishment of a legal
framework in areas critical to the functioning of democratic
institutions in line with European standards. In particular, the
introduction in 2005 of the Judicial Legal Council was an important
step in the country’s judicial reform. Further progress has been made
in this area, as evidenced by the legal acts adopted recently, which
provide a revised procedure for recruitment of judges and amend the
law relating to the fight against corruption and the Penal Code
concerning the criminalization corruption. The Assembly welcomes the
Azerbaijani authorities on the quality of their cooperation with the
European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission). The
recent request for assistance from the authorities to draft a new law
on defamation is a good example of this cooperation.
7. Unfortunately, progress on the application of certain laws have not
been satisfactory. The restrictive application or violations of some
of them raise growing concerns about the rule of law and respect for
8. Since the accession of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe, no
parliamentary or presidential election was in full compliance with
democratic standards, as confirmed by the judgments of the European
Court of Human Rights in seven cases the 35 considered admissible,
related to the 2005 parliamentary elections. Many cases related to the
2010 elections are pending before the Court. It should be corrected
before the next elections, a number of deficiencies and shortcomings
in the electoral process, particularly with regard to the electoral
code, the composition of electoral commissions, candidate
registration, the role of observers and the procedure for complaints
9. The Assembly is deeply convinced that it is in the best interest of
the democratic process and the ruling party itself to face the
opposition in a representative body and establish a genuine political
dialogue within the parliament. However, since the last election in
2010, some opposition parties of Azerbaijan are not well known in the
parliament and the ruling party is the only one who can legitimately
constitute a political group. The independent members who, it is true,
often criticize the government, are unlikely to make their voices
10. Unfortunately, there is no political dialogue with the opposition
outside parliament. The Assembly is concerned by the restrictive
framework imposed on the activities of the extra-parliamentary
opposition, who complains of restrictions on freedom of expression and
freedom of assembly and the lack of access to media.
11. It is necessary to establish an inclusive political system and
political environment really competitive and unrestricted, fully
respect fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, freedom
of assembly and freedom of association. The situation in Azerbaijan is
worrying and the Assembly expresses its deep concern in this respect.
12. Amendments to the Criminal Code and the Administrative Code
recently adopted, which increased penalties against event organizers
“unauthorized” and people involved, are of concern. Combined with the
general prohibition protest in central Baku, decreed by the
authorities, these new provisions may have a further negative impact
on freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. The restrictive use
of certain articles of the Criminal Code, in particular Articles 221
and 233, against those involved in peaceful demonstrations yet
unauthorized, is another concern.
13. The Assembly recalls that the independence of the judiciary is one
of the fundamental prerequisites of the rule of law and the democratic
principle of separation and balance of powers. The lack of
independence of the judiciary is a problem in Azerbaijan, where the
executive power, in some cases, continues to put pressure on him.
Issues of fair trial, including during the preliminary phase, and
equality of arms are also important concerns.
14. The Assembly is alarmed by reports from advocates of human rights
and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international according
to which charges were allegedly fabricated against activists and
journalists. Implementing restrictive of freedom combined with a lack
of fairness and undue interference of the executive lead to the
systematic detention of persons who may be considered as prisoners of
15. Alleged cases of torture and other ill-treatment in police
stations during the investigation and in prisons and impunity are also
a cause of serious concern.
16. The Assembly is concerned by criticism at national and
international levels regarding irregularities observed during the
campaign of expropriation committed in Baku in 2009. It urges the
authorities to ensure the transparency of the process, compliance with
the Constitution and the law and full respect for human rights. It
also calls for the revision of the business including compliance with
the law raises doubts and legitimate concerns, as well as
investigations into allegations of abuse and violations committed in
the context of the expropriation proceedings and reconstruction,
followed ‘adequate compensation and action against those who violated
17. Progress in the establishment of a legislative framework to fight
against corruption and organized crime are undeniable, but the main
challenge now lies in its effective implementation. It will be
interesting to see what will be in this respect the results of the
campaign against corruption launched in 2011.
18. Given the foregoing, the Assembly urges the Azerbaijani authorities:
18.1. Regarding the functioning of pluralist democracy:
18.1.1. to correct deficiencies and dysfunctions identified by
international observers during the last parliamentary and presidential
elections and amend the electoral code in accordance with the
recommendations of the Venice Commission in time for the next
18.1.2. create a political environment open to all and not
restrictive, and to establish a real dialogue with the
18.1.3. address the issue of the funding of political parties in
accordance with Recommendation Rec (2003) 4 of the Committee of
Ministers on common rules against corruption in the funding of
political parties and election campaigns;
18.1.4. strengthen the effective implementation of the principle of
separation of powers guaranteed by the Constitution, and to accentuate
the parliamentary control of the executive, in particular:
220.127.116.11. revise the Rules of Procedure of Parliament to strengthen
parliamentary action potential MPs who are not members of the
parliamentary group of the ruling party;
18.104.22.168. revise the Rules of Procedure of Parliament in order to
reduce the number of members required to create a parliamentary group
to between 3% and 5%, as in other European countries;
18.2. On the judiciary:
18.2.1. to ensure full independence of the judiciary, particularly
vis-Ã-vis the executive, and to refrain from any pressure;
18.2.2. enshrine in law the Judicial Legal Council acts as a guarantor
of the independence of the judiciary and to apply this provision
18.2.3. setting an age of mandatory retirement for all judges;
18.2.4. perform a gap analysis of judicial practice and give all
necessary attention to reports of alleged failures that have resulted
in unfair trials, in order to remedy the situation;
18.2.5. develop a strategy for human resources encourages
professionalism, independence and integrity, and to establish a
consistent and uniform evaluation of the work of judges, linked to
18.2.6. create a unique and effective random allocation of cases nationally;
18.2.7. refrain from any pressure on lawyers defending activists and
journalists who criticize the authorities and to ensure that all
reported cases of pressure are subject to an effective investigation
to bring the perpetrators to justice ;
18.2.8. to conduct effective investigations into all cases of alleged
corruption within the judicial system;
18.2.9. encourage the participation of civil society in the definition
and monitoring of other strategies to reform the judicial system;
18.3. On corruption and organized crime:
18.3.1. intensify their efforts to effectively implement laws relating
to the fight against corruption;
18.3.2. implement the recommendations of the Group of States against
18.3.3. to continue their work on the development of a draft law on
the prevention of conflicts of interest;
18.3.4. encourage the participation of civil society in the definition
and monitoring of strategies for the fight against corruption and
18.4. Concerning alleged political prisoners and prisoners of conscience:
18.4.1. examine cases involving defenders of human rights, activists
and journalists detained following the criminal trial that compliance
with the standards of protection of human rights is contested by civil
society and the international community;
18.4.2. to use all the legal tools available to release prisoners
whose detention raises doubts and legitimate concerns;
18.4.3. release on humanitarian grounds alleged political prisoners
whose state of health is worrying;
18.4.4. to fully implement the resolutions of the Assembly relating to
alleged political prisoners in Azerbaijan;
18.5. Regarding torture and ill-treatment by agents of law enforcement:
18.5.1. continue efforts to end abuses by agents of law enforcement in
effectively implementing measures to eradicate impunity and lack of
accountability for these abuses, including conducting a proper
investigation standing in each case;
18.5.2. to conduct effective investigations into all cases involving
torture or ill-treatment alleged to bring the perpetrators to justice;
18.5.3. adopt measures and procedural guarantees more effective
against ill treatment and torture in police stations, in accordance
with European standards, such as the installation of cameras;
18.5.4. encourage civil society to monitor and develop
awareness-raising and training;
18.5.5. continue efforts in the implementation of the national
mechanism for the prevention of torture and ill-treatment, and to
involve civil society in this process;
18.6. On freedom of expression:
18.6.1. to continue their efforts to develop a new law on defamation,
in cooperation with the Venice Commission;
18.6.2. create favorable conditions for the exercise of journalism and
to refrain from any form of pressure;
18.6.3. to end the prosecution of journalists or other people
expressing critical opinions;
18.6.4. to conduct effective investigations into the murders of MM.
And Elmar Huseynov Rafiq Tagi and bring the perpetrators to justice;
18.6.5. to conduct effective investigations into all cases of beatings
reported by journalists and bring the perpetrators to justice;
18.7. On freedom of assembly:
18.7.1. ensure respect for freedom of assembly, in particular:
22.214.171.124. to find a compromise solution to allow protests in some
areas of the center of Baku, which complies with the safety
requirements and is acceptable to the organizers and public
126.96.36.199. to refrain from the use of disproportionate force by the
police against peaceful demonstrators;
188.8.131.52. to refrain from restrictive application of certain articles
of the Criminal Code, in particular Articles 221 and 233, against
participants in peaceful demonstrations, even unauthorized
18.8. On freedom of association:
18.8.1. to revise the law on NGOs to respond to the concerns expressed
by the Venice Commission;
18.8.2. enhance and facilitate the process of registration of
18.8.3. create an enabling environment for NGO activities, including
those expressing critical opinions;
18.9. On freedom of conscience and religion:
18.9.1. to revise the law on freedom of religion in the light of
concerns expressed by the Venice Commission;
18.9.2. improve and facilitate registration procedures for religious
19. The Assembly encourages the authorities to intensify their efforts
to implement legislation in the areas that are crucial for the proper
functioning of democratic institutions. In this context, the Assembly
resolves to pursue its monitoring of compliance with obligations and
commitments by Azerbaijan. B. Explanatory memorandum by Mr Agramunt
and Mr Debono Grech, co-rapporteurs 1. Introduction
1. Azerbaijan joined the Council of Europe on 21 January 2001. Upon
joining, he is committed to not only honor the obligations of all
Member States under Article 3 of the Statute of the Organization, but
also a number of specific commitments contained in the Notice 222
(2000), which together form the basis of the monitoring process in
accordance with Resolution 1115 (1997) on the creation of an Assembly
committee on the honoring of obligations and commitments by member
states of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee), as amended by
Resolution 1431 (2005) on the opening of a procedure for monitoring
and post-monitoring dialogue, Resolution 1515 (2006) on the evolution
of the procedure followed by the Assembly (May 2005-June 2006) and
Resolution 1710 (2010) on the mandate of the co-rapporteurs of the
2. Since then, the Monitoring Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly
presented several reports on the progress made by Azerbaijan
comprehensive reports on the honoring of obligations and commitments
in 2002 and 2007, as well as reports on the functioning of democratic
institutions 2004, 2005, 2008 and 20103.
3. In addition, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has
presented several reports on compliance with a specific commitment,
namely to release or retry présumés4 political prisoners. The review
by the Assembly of the most recent report on this subject is provided
in the part-session in January 20135.
4. The case of Azerbaijan is also discussed in the periodic reports on
the implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights
(“the Court”) in the Member States of the Council of Europe, developed
by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. The most recent
report in this area was presented to the Assembly in 20116.
5. Some unsolved problems in the field of human rights in Azerbaijan
have also been reports of other thematic committees of the Assembly
concerning either the whole or a part only of the member states of the
Council of Europe. Of particular note here the report on freedom of
expression in the Member States of the Council of Europe presented by
the Committee on Culture, Science and education7 and report on human
rights rights in the member states of the Council of Europe presented
by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights8. In October 2012,
the Parliamentary Assembly held a debate on topical case Safarov.
6. Political developments concerning the Nagorno-Karabakh were
followed by the Political Affairs Committee and démocratie9, while the
specific situation of refugees and displaced persons in Azerbaijan was
discussed by the Committee on Migration, Refugees and déplacées10
7. Representatives of the Assembly observed all legislative and
presidential elections held since the accession of Azerbaijan and a
constitutional referendum, and the reports were submitted to the
Assemblée11. The conclusions of the report prepared following the 2005
elections led to the credentials of the delegation of Azerbaijan in
the opening part of the January 2006 session of the Assemblée12.
8. Finally, the honoring of obligations and commitments by Azerbaijan
is followed by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
within the framework of the subgroup on Armenia and Azerbaijan of the
Rapporteur Group on Democracy (GR- DEM) which has replaced the “Group
AGO” in December 2011. Every six months, this sub-group reports on
progress in each country.
9. In this report, we have relied on the findings and conclusions of
the relevant institutions and mechanisms for monitoring the
conventions of the Council of Europe to which Azerbaijan is a party.
Were taken into account the work of the following bodies: the European
Court of Human Rights, the Committee of Ministers in its oversight of
the execution of judgments of the Court, the Commissioner for Human
Rights, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council
of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the Committee
of Experts on the Evaluation of measures against money laundering and
the financing of terrorism (MONEYVAL ), the European Committee for the
Prevention of Torture and Inhuman yes inhuman or degrading treatment
(CPT), the Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the
Protection of National Minorities and the European Commission against
Racism and Intolerance ( ECRI).
10. We also relied on the legal opinion of the European Commission for
Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) and in particular its
conclusions about the compliance of a number of laws of Azerbaijan
with the standards Council of Europe. During the period, the Venice
Commission issued the following notice: the draft amendment to the
Electoral Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan (joint opinion with the
Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE / ODIHR)) 13
on the draft amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of
Azerbaïdjan14, on the bill relating to obtaining information on the
activities of courts of Azerbaïdjan15, the bill supplementing the Law
on the Status of Municipalities of the Republic of Azerbaïdjan16, the
compatibility of the legislation of the Republic of Azerbaijan on
non-governmental organizations with human rights standards the
homme17, as well as the law on freedom of religion18. In this regard,
we commend the authorities of Azerbaijan for their constructive
cooperation with the Venice Commission.
11. We have been appointed co-rapporteurs of the Monitoring Committee,
in November 2009 to Mr Debono Grech, replacing Ms. Evgenia Zhivkova
(Bulgaria, SOC) who left the Assembly, in June 2010 Mr Agramunt,
replacing Mr. Andres Herkel (Estonia, EPP / CD), whose mandate had
expired. In the preparation of this report and to maintain a political
dialogue, we visited Azerbaijan on four occasions: in February 2011,
February 2012, June 2012 and November 2012. After these visits, we
presented the commission information19Ã notes, which were subsequently
12. During our visits, we held several meetings with senior
representatives of the legislative, executive and judiciary in the
country, representatives of civil society nationally and
internationally, and the heads of the extra-parliamentary opposition.
13. The Committee held a hearing on freedom of expression in
Azerbaijan after the publication of a report by Amnesty International
on the subject in December 2011. In addition, we meet regularly with
representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) present in
Strasbourg Azerbaijan during parliamentary sessions.
14. In preparing this report, we were faced with unprecedented
pressure from a number of non-governmental organizations that
Azerbaijan did not seem to understand the nature of parliamentary
monitoring, based on political dialogue and a constructive approach.
Their critics sometimes unfounded with respect to our work as well as
their attempts to discredit us we were not easier.
15. From the outset, we have tried to structure our dialogue with the
authorities in order to achieve a common understanding of problems and
measures that can be taken to improve the situation and progress in
compliance with Azerbaijan of its obligations and commitments.
16. We emphasize that throughout the preparation of this report,
cooperation with the Azerbaijani authorities and the parliamentary
delegation of Azerbaijan was excellent. We have obtained all the
necessary information and received all the organizational support
required for our visits.
17. The table on the fulfillment of the commitments undertaken by
Azerbaijan upon accession is attached to this report (see Appendix 1).
2. Country’s geopolitical situation 2.1. Regional and geopolitical
18. The situation in Azerbaijan on the political and security are
largely determined by the geopolitical context, it can hardly be
considered in isolation from it. The country borders the Russian
Federation, Iran and Armenia.
19. In this secular society and multireligious, the vast majority of
the population is Muslim (over 97%), predominantly Shiite. However,
Azerbaijan, unlike most other Muslim countries, Shiites and Sunnis
often attend the same mosques and there is no conflict between them.
For now, the Azerbaijani government has managed to hold off Islamic
fundamentalism and ensures that other religions can be practiced
freely. We looked closely at the issue of religious freedom and will
return in more detail in a later chapter.
20. Since its independence, Azerbaijan has sought, through its foreign
policy, to find a balance in its relations with the European Union,
Turkey, Iran and other neighbors of the Caspian Sea, the Federation
Russia and the United States. It also maintains cordial relations with
Israel. The authorities have always shown their pro-European
aspirations and pursued a policy of integration into Euro-Atlantic
21. Regarding the foreign policy of Azerbaijan, the news is dominated
by the ongoing conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. This will
be discussed in the next chapter.
22. Relations between Azerbaijan and Iran are influenced by various
factors, including the presence of a large ethnic minority Azeri
several million people in northern Iran, Islamic recurring fears of
infiltration across the border South with Iran or cooperation in the
energy sector. These relationships are also characterized by periodic
tensions. Part of the political class considers even openly Iranian
Azerbaijan as a mere province of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Well
aware of this potential threat and fear of losing their particular
secularism in this geopolitical context, the Azerbaijani authorities
clearly looking strong political support from the European Union. They
also want a reliable partner, modern secular EU eastern borders of
23. The following incidents with Iran illustrate the problem: January
19, 2012, the Azerbaijani Ministry of National Security announced that
it had discovered a terrorist group planned the assassination of
public figures. According to the Ministry, two Azerbaijani citizens
who were in contact with Iranian special services, had smuggle guns
and explosives from Iran to Azerbaijan. They were detained by the
security forces of Azerbaijan. The termination of this conspiracy
resulted in a real showdown.
24. Recently, Iran has also accused Azerbaijan of allowing the safe
passage of agents of the Israeli secret service he was responsible for
the last two of a series of assassinations or assassination attempts
Iranian nuclear scientists, which took place in January 2012.
Azerbaijan has denied the allegations and asserted, by the voice of
the spokesman of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Foreign Affairs Elman
Abdullayev, the position of Iran was an “absurd reaction” to the
grievances of Azerbaijan on plot that was orchestrated by Iranian
agents to murder Israelis in Azerbaijan.
25. Azerbaijan has established good relations with the United States.
The visit of the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Baku in
June 2012 can be seen as a confirmation of the importance of
Azerbaijan as a strategic ally in the region, both as a producer of
energy and its proximity to Iran.
26. The Russian Federation also plays an important role in the foreign
policy of Azerbaijan, especially in negotiations on Nagorno-Karabakh.
A considerable number of Azerbaijani citizens live and work in Russia.
27. In 2009, the authorities were deeply concerned with the
improvement of relations between Armenia and Turkey in the absence of
a solution to the problem of Nagorno-Karabakh. The establishment of
diplomatic relations between the two countries and the reopening of
the border closed by Turkey in 1993 in solidarity with Azerbaijan
after the Nagorno-Karabakh were perceived by Azerbaijan as a threat to
stability of the region.
28. Finally, and this is not negligible, the rich resources of
Azerbaijan’s oil and gas make this country the target of divergent
interests and strategies. As we will see later, Azerbaijan and will be
an important supplier of oil and natural gas, especially to Europe.
Conflicting claims on maritime boundaries and the delimitation of the
seabed of the Caspian Sea among all riparian countries, especially
between Azerbaijan and Iran, creating a climate of uncertainty
29. Upon accession, Azerbaijan is committed to “continue efforts to
settle the conflict by peaceful means” and “settle international and
domestic disputes by peaceful means and in accordance with principles
of international law (an obligation responsibility of all Member
States of the Council of Europe), resolutely rejecting any threatened
use of force against its neighbors. ”
30. Since the cease-fire of 1994, negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh
were conducted within the Minsk Group co-chaired by France, Russia and
the United States, but n ‘unfortunately gave no tangible results so
far. The lack of real progress in resolving the conflict aroused
strong dissatisfaction in government and public opinion. We found that
the international community, which can be blamed for failing to comply
with its resolutions in relation to the conflict, has also
considerable political pressure on Azerbaijan in other areas.
31. Eighteen years after the cease-fire, no peaceful solution was
found almost 20% of Azerbaijani territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh
and seven surrounding districts, is always busy. Some 900,000 people,
or 10% of the country’s population, remain displaced, which weighs
heavily on the economic and social Azerbaïdjan21.
32. During our visit in February 2012, we visited one of the refugee
camps on the outskirts of Baku and met with the Secretary of State to
refugees and IDPs, who has compiled a comprehensive overview of the
33. In the report of the assessment mission on the ground co-chairs of
the Minsk Group of the OSCE conducted in the occupied territories
adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh, published in late 2010, the co-chairs,
evoking the disastrous humanitarian consequences they could observed
in these territories, stressed that “the harsh reality of the
situation in these territories only reinforces the view that co-chairs
the status quo is unacceptable, and that only a peaceful negotiated
settlement can bring the prospect of a better and safer future for the
people living in these territories and those who live there now “22.
34. Against the backdrop of increasing tensions along the line of
contact, mediation efforts brought only very limited progress in the
investigation of violations of the cease-fire.
35. We learned that the conflict, which is called “frozen” because
victims every day. According to information we obtained during our
visits, about 30 people are killed each year, and more are injured. As
one speaker said during the discussion on Azerbaijan in the
commission, “the country is not at war, nor peace”.
36. The Parliamentary Assembly has tried to contribute to the peace
process. In 2005, it adopted Resolution 1416 (2005) on the
Nagorno-Karabakh region dealt with by the Minsk Conference of the
OSCE, in which it decided to actively participate in the creation of a
positive climate in the peace process without interfering in the
negotiations. The Bureau of the Assembly created an ad hoc committee
responsible for ensuring the implementation of this resolution,
consisting of the heads of national delegations of Armenia and
Azerbaijan, the co-rapporteurs for these two countries,
representatives of groups policies not represented by these members
and representatives of the main opposition party in each country. The
late Lord Russell-Johnston was appointed President and then replaced
by Jordi Costa XuclÃ i.
37. The work of this ad hoc committee has been difficult from the
start and even more so after the death of its first president, a lack
of cooperation by the Armenian side. Throughout the year 2011, the
Armenians refused to take part in réunions23. The ad hoc committee has
not yet been restored in 2012, the situation remained unchanged.
38. During our visits to Azerbaijan, we observed a broad political
consensus about the conflict, and many of our partners, including
representatives of civil society, were disappointed by the
indifference and passivity international community, including the
Council of Europe. We even heard allegations that a policy of two
weights, two measures have been applied to the countries concerned.
39. It is also very worrying that the ineffectiveness of international
mediation leads to increased frequency of hostile rhetoric and threats
of use of force in public statements. The increase in the defense
budget of Azerbaijan is another source of concern. Since 2005, it has
increased by 70%, including 45% between 2010 and 201124. In 2011,
defense spending accounted for $ 3.1 billion of the total budget of
the State of $ 15.9 billion (19.47%) 25.
40. It is obvious that the failure to resolve this conflict, which
affects the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, weighed on the
country’s development in all sectors. The permanent occupation of the
territories in question and the presence of refugees and displaced
persons within the country remains a major problem. Successful
initiatives for resolving this conflict, which has been an obstacle to
development in the country’s internal political, economic,
institutional and social progress is crucial for democratic future of
41. However, only a peaceful solution can be considered: therefore,
Azerbaijan and Armenia should redouble their efforts to reach an
agreement on the Madrid principles, in accordance with the commitments
made by the presidents of both countries in the framework of the Minsk
Group. We noted, however, that the credibility of this format is
increasingly challenged. 2.3. Relations with the European Union
42. Relations between Azerbaijan and the European Union are governed
by the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA)
between the European Union and Azerbaijan signed in 1996 entered into
force in 1999. The main objectives and priorities for cooperation are
defined in the Country Strategy Paper 2007-2013.
43. Following his release in 2004, the EU launched the European
Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) with five countries, including Azerbaijan.
ENP sets ambitious objectives based on the commitment of the European
Union and Azerbaijan to common values, particularly respect for the
sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of
internationally recognized borders of each and others as well as
44. An action plan of the ENP to “significantly closer legislation and
standards Azerbaijani those of the European Union” was adopted in
2006. It defines several priority areas, including the contribution to
the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh, the strengthening of
democracy in the country, in particular through a fair and transparent
electoral process in line with international requirements,
strengthening the protection of human rights, fundamental freedoms and
the rule of law in accordance with international commitments of
Azerbaijan, the fight against corruption or economic integration. On
several occasions, the Action Plan refers directly to the work of the
Council of Europe and our activities suivi26.
45. This action plan has expired December 31, 2011, but both parties
have agreed to extend for an indefinite period, until the signing of
the Association Agreement currently under negotiation.
46. In 2007-2010, the envelope for the European Neighbourhood and
Partnership was 88 million euros. The new National Indicative
Programme for 2011-2013 is itself a budget of 122.5 million euros.
This increase reflects the increased interest in strengthening
cooperation. The purpose of this program is to achieve the objectives
and priorities of the action plan: democratic structures and good
governance, socio-economic reform and sustainable development, trade
and investment, partnership and cooperation in various fields
including energy, mobility and security.
47. Azerbaijan is actively participating in the Eastern Partnership,
launched in 2009, based on the ENP. It is also a founding member of
48. July 15, 2010, negotiations were initiated with a view to
concluding an Association Agreement EU-Azerbaijan, who should succeed
to the Agreement on partnership and cooperation, but progressing
slowly. Once signed, this agreement will cover a number of areas,
including political dialogue, justice, freedom and security as well as
economic cooperation, which will significantly strengthen economic
integration and political association of Azerbaijan with the European
49. This intensification of political dialogue is strictly related to
the strengthening of economic relations. Since 2004, the European
Union is the main trade partner of Azerbaijan. In 2010, trade with the
EU accounted for 42.5% of total trade of Azerbaijan.
50. Although the share of Azerbaijan in the overall volume of trade in
the EU remains very low (less than 0.5%), the country remains a major
supplier of oil and gas to the European Union. Its particular
strategic importance is recognized in the Memorandum of Understanding
on Energy concluded in 2006 between the EU and Azerbaijan.
51. The oil and gas from the Caspian Sea are routed to the European
Union through pipelines crossing Georgia and Turkey, as well as by
rail to the Georgian ports of Poti and Batumi. A “southern corridor”
routing, which would include the Nabucco pipeline is planned. The
agreement to build the pipeline transanatolien (TANAP), which could be
an alternative to Nabucco provides routing future gas to Europe via a
“southern corridor”. 2.4. Signature and ratification of the Council of
52. On 5 June 2012, Azerbaijan had signed and ratified 56 conventions
of the 213 Council of Europe, including all legal instruments included
in the list of commitments, except one.
53. It is the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages
(ETS No. 148), which was signed on 21 December 2001 but has not been
ratified, despite the commitment that was made to do so in a within
one year after accession.
54. During our visit in February 2012, we were informed that the
ratification process is underway, but it is progressing slowly.
Presumably the reluctance of authorities in the field is related to
the fear that the implementation of the Charter is misused by some
radical groups in areas near the Iranian border.
55. In its 2012 biennial report on the implementation of the European
Charter for Regional or Minority minoritaires27, the Secretary General
urged the Azerbaijani authorities to benefit from legal aid experts
from the Council of Europe in order to develop an instrument of
ratification, which takes full account of the specific problems that
may exist in the country. During the part-session of the Assembly in
April 2012 in Strasbourg, we met with members of the Secretariat of
the Charter, which provided us with interesting information about the
safeguards against misuse of the provisions of the Charter. We hope to
convince the authorities to accelerate the ratification process and to
conclude without further delay.
56. Finally, Azerbaijan has not yet signed the updated version of the
Convention on Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism (CETS
No. 198). We learned that this process was also underway. 3. Economic
and social situation
57. The economy of Azerbaijan has experienced a significant decline
after the collapse of the Soviet Union and has started to recover in
the mid-1990s. After an exceptionally rapid growth between 2001 and
2010, which averaged over 16% during this période28et was largely
driven oil exports, the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) is
almost stopped in 2011, 0.1%.
58. Oil and gas are essential factors in the economy of Azerbaijan,
they represent more than 40% of PIB29. The high price of oil has
greatly benefited the economy. However, in 2011, the total volume of
oil exports fell 21.6%. According to official Azerbaijani decline in
the oil and gas was due to some repair work on oil rigs and in some
59. Azerbaijan is considered one of the most important regions of the
world in terms of exploration and development of oil and gas. The
proven oil reserves in the Caspian Basin, the country shares with
Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran are estimated at 7 billion
barils30 a volume comparable in size to the reserves in the North Sea.
60. The European Union is the main consumer of Azerbaijani oil: it
accounts for nearly half of the country’s exports.
61. Azerbaijan has concluded several production sharing with various
oil companies. The country’s total production is ensured by less than
20% of the national oil company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) and 80%
by the AIOC (Azerbaijan International Operating Company) led by BP31.
Major international oil companies have invested more than $ 60 billion
in the extraction, production and transportation of oil from
Azerbaijan. In 2006, BTS pipeline carrying oil from the Caspian Sea to
the Mediterranean via Georgia and Turkey entered into service. It
carries nearly 80% of oil exports from Azerbaijan, the remaining 20%
being shared between two other pipelines (Baku-Novorossiysk on the
Black Sea in Russia and Baku-Supsa on the Black Sea in Georgia). A
“southern corridor” including Nabucco pipeline is under construction.
Also note, as mentioned above, the agreement on the pipeline
transanatolien, which was ratified by the Azerbaijani Parliament
November 20, 2012.
62. Azerbaijan has made considerable efforts to modernize and reform
its economy. The government has initiated regulatory reforms in
several areas and has undertaken a particularly marked openness of
trade policy, but the impact of these reforms is limited due to the
inefficiency of the public administration. The government has almost
completed the privatization of agricultural land and small and medium
enterprises. However, the state continues to play a very important
role in industry and there is still much to be done to develop the
economy, including the modernization of tax and customs administration
and strengthening the fight against corruption.
63. The prominence of the public expenditure growth is not related to
oil and the weak role of foreign trade are sources of concern. Other
problems include the rate of youth unemployment relatively high and
weaknesses context for investors, including small and medium
enterprises (corruption, fiscal transparency and governance in
64. The main challenge for the economy of Azerbaijan will strengthen
this growth, including diversification, that is to say, the
development of non-oil sectors. Further structural reforms are needed
to promote private sector development by improving economic governance
and the opening of the concurrence32.
65. Azerbaijan has submitted an application to join the World Trade
Organization (WTO) in 1997. The negotiation process is underway but
progressing very slowly. The accession could take place in 2013 at the
66. Despite the economic downturn, Azerbaijan has maintained
macroeconomic stability, continued to struggle against poverty and
encouraged the diversification of the economy. According to the World
Bank, Azerbaijan has achieved remarkable results in managing to bring
down the poverty rate from 49% in 2001 to nearly 9% in 2010. This
performance is even more impressive, according to estimates, one in
nine people in Azerbaijan is a displaced person in his country as a
result of the Nagorno-Karabakh. The decline in poverty is also
spectacular when compared to the results obtained in other countries,
particularly those in the region.
67. Inequality declined, the Gini coefficient has fallen by almost 8%
to 34% in 2008. In 2010, the average income difference between urban
and rural areas was relatively low, with coefficients of 33% and 27%
68. The government is currently implementing an action plan 2011-2015
for the implementation of the State Programme for Poverty Reduction
and Sustainable Development.
69. The unemployment rate, which remains relatively low, stood at 5.5%
in 2011. There was a marked increase in real wages.
70. In 2005, the President signed a National Strategy for Employment
for 2006-2013, developed in cooperation with the ILO and with
particular focus on vocational training, the development of small and
medium enterprises and social protection.
71. That said, there is still much to do. Access to essential health
facilities, particularly for the poorer sections of the population,
remains a concern. In the ranking of countries according to the Human
Development Index (HDI), which takes into account the health,
education and income, Azerbaijan stands still behind comparable
countries in Europe and Central Asia. Assessments conducted by the
World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) show that inequality in access to education and
health. 4. Political situation
72. The period covered by this report was marked by the presidential
election in October 2008 and the parliamentary elections in November
2010, as well as constitutional reform following the referendum in
March 2009 on amendments and additions to the Constitution . Municipal
elections were held in December 2009.
73. Of the seven presidential candidates registered by the Central
Election Commission, the outgoing president, Ilham Aliev, supported by
the ruling party, won the election with 88.73% of the vote and a
turnout of 75 , 64%. The ad hoc committee of the Parliamentary
Assembly which observed the elections concluded that despite a number
of shortcomings, the results of the election held on 15 October 2008
“reflected the will of the national electorate” 34 .
74. In the parliamentary elections of 7 November 2010, the ruling New
Azerbaijan Party (YAP), won a majority with 71 seats (out of 125).
Independent candidates won 42 seats, the party of civic solidarity
three seats, the party Ana Vatan two seats, while the party UMID, the
Citizens’ Union, Adalat party, the party of democratic reform, Front
party People joined the party of social prosperity and advantage of
the large building got one seat each. The turnout was 49.56%. In their
joint statement, the observers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe, Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, the European
Parliament and the OSCE / ODIHR concluded that “the entire process was
not a significant progress in the direction of democracy “35.
75. Although they make positive changes such as inclusion in the
constitution of the principle of public access sessions of parliament
and the obligation to publish decisions of the Supreme Court and the
Constitutional Court as well as laws adopted but also the extension of
the jurisdiction of the legislative initiative to 40,000 citizens, the
constitutional amendments of 2009 establish other rules that are of
76. Among these include in particular the possibility of unlimited
reelection président36. Indeed, the constitutional limitation
expressly consecutive presidential terms is particularly important in
countries where democratic structures and political culture have not
yet been consolidated. Criticism in successive elections only
reinforce these fears.
77. Other areas of concern in the constitutional amendments of 2009
are the extension of the mandate of the Milli Mejlis (Parliament of
Azerbaijan) and the President in the event of military operations,
amendments to bodies of local self-government not complying with the
European Charter of Local Self-Government (ETS No. 122), 37 and
restrictions on media freedom.
78. It should be noted that the authorities had not, prior to the
referendum, sought the opinion of the Venice Commission on the
proposed amendments, despite the impact of these on the functioning of
democratic institutions. The request for an opinion was presented in
late January 2009 by the Monitoring Committee and the Secretary
General of the Council of Europe. However, the opinion was adopted in
March 2009, just days before the referendum, and has not been taken
into account by the authorities azerbaïdjanaises38.
79. The turnout in the referendum on the amendments, held on 18 March
2009 was 70.83%. The 41 amendments presented 29 questions were
accepted, with a percentage of “yes” varies between 87.15 and 91.76%.
A delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly was present in the
80. Municipal elections were observed by a delegation of the Congress
of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, which was
regarded as “an symptomatic of the situation is still unsatisfactory
local democracy and more generally the weakness of local governments
81. Since the general election of 2005, relations between the
authorities and the opposition have remained tense and were
characterized by an almost total absence of dialogue between the two
parties. Despite the participation of the opposition in the 2005
elections, some opposition parties have decided not to attend the next
election, citing barriers to equal opportunity, and those who took
part are finally removed from the partial re-elections in 10
constituencies in May 2006 and the presidential election of October
2008, in protest. During the 2005 elections, the ruling party (New
Azerbaijan Party – YAP) has won 64 of 125 seats and 45 seats returned
to independent candidates who support throughout the party in power,
but are sometimes critical against the authorities. The opposition
party Musavat were four members of parliament. Some opposition
parties, including the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan, have refused
to take their seats in parliament.
82. During the 2010 elections, the opposition was divided and highly
fragmented (five blocks and two parties); thus, very few opposition
candidates won seats (we will return to the issue of elections in the
chapter entitled “Operation of pluralist democracy”).
83. The lack of genuine political dialogue was unfortunately
exacerbated by the deterioration of the political context. We consider
the disturbing reports of restrictions on freedom of expression and
assembly, and violations of human rights, including acts of harassment
and violence against journalists, human rights defenders rights,
lawyers and activists. These issues will be discussed in more detail
in the following chapters.
84. The excessive use of force by police to disperse the protests that
took place in Baku in March and April 2011, and that the detention of
participants, raises legitimate concerns. Fifteen persons sentenced to
imprisonment of two to three years for hooliganism at that time were
considered by Amnesty International as prisoners of conscience.
Fortunately, all have now been released, either by court order or as a
result of presidential pardons. We return to this point in the broader
context of the chapter on the rule of law, where we look at the
restrictive application of the Penal Code and the independence of the
judiciary, and continue to monitor the situation various alleged
political prisoners in our visits and future reports.
85. In May 2012, Azerbaijan came under the spotlight by hosting the
Eurovision Song Contest 2012. Azerbaijani activists have seized this
opportunity to draw the attention of the international community on
violations of human rights committed by the authorities, launching a
campaign called “Sing for Democracy” with the support of Amnesty
86. In all our contacts with the highest authorities, we expressed our
deep conviction that it is in the best interests of the democratic
process and the ruling party itself to face the opposition in a
representative body and to engage in a political dialogue really
significant within the parliamentary framework.
87. We also insisted on the fact that we can not escape criticism by
limiting freedom of expression and assembly. 5. Functioning of
pluralist democracy 5.1. Free and fair elections
88. Since the accession of Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe in
2001, two presidential elections (2003 and 2008) and two elections (in
2005, followed by a partial repeat in 2006 and 2010) took place . All
have been observed by Assemblée40. Unfortunately, none of these
elections failed to meet democratic standards fully.
89. The 2005 elections have even led to the credentials of the
delegation of Azerbaijan on substantial grounds within the Assembly
parlementaire41 and partial re-election in 2006.
90. Recently, the European Court of Human Rights issued rulings in
seven cases (out of 35 deemed admissible) on the 2005 parliamentary
elections in Azerbaijan, where it has found a violation of Article 3
of Protocol No. 1 (right to free elections) 42. Five cases involved
complaints presented among others by the leaders of the opposition
parties on the arbitrary invalidation of election results in the
constituency of the applicants, with the invalidation of private
victory. Another case concerned a complaint about arbitrary and
ineffective considering the applicant’s complaints about electoral
irregularities. After the judgment, the Court struck seven other
similar applications, following a unilateral declaration by the
government in which he acknowledged the alleged violations. The final
judgment concerned the arbitrary refusal to register the applicant on
the list of candidates for elections.
91. During the reporting period, as we have already indicated, a
presidential election and a general election took place. In 2008, the
presidential election was observed by international observers of the
Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the OSCE (OSCE /
ODIHR), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the
European Parliament européen43. In a joint statement, they concluded
that considerable progress had been made in the organization of the
presidential election in Azerbaijan but all the international
commitments of the country had not been completed and that further
efforts were needed to respond to crucial international commitments,
including those related to pluralism, neutrality in the environment of
the campaign and the media. Observers noted that five opposition
parties boycotted the election citing persistent obstacles to equal
92. In its conclusions, the ad hoc committee has highlighted a number
of shortcomings in the electoral process, in particular with regard to
the Electoral Code, the composition of electoral commissions, the
media environment and the restrictive application of the law on the
freedom of assembly.
93. Upon accession, Azerbaijan is committed to “revise the legislation
on elections, especially the Law on the Central Election Commission
and the Electoral Act, taking into account the recommendations made by
international observers during elections past, so that the next
parliamentary elections in autumn 2000 confirm definitively the
progress made and their results are accepted by the majority of
political parties participating in elections, and they can be regarded
as free and fair by international observers. ”
94. The Azerbaijani authorities have called on the expertise of the
Venice Commission on the reform of the electoral code just before the
elections in May 2006. Consultations continued until 2008 and the Law
on Amendments to the Electoral Code was adopted by Parliament in June
2008. In its opinion on these amendements44, the Venice Commission
noted that “some previous recommendations are not taken into account
any amendments or only in part.” Aspects that posed the biggest
problem was the composition of the Central Election Commission (CEC)
and the territorial election commissions, registration of candidates,
observers, the electoral and accuracy, as well as procedures for
complaints and appeals.
95. In two consecutive resolutions on the functioning of democratic
institutions in Azerbaijan, adopted in 2008 and 2010, the Assembly has
asked the authorities to ensure conditions for the parliamentary
elections in November 2010 to be in full compliance with European
standards, in particular cooperation with the Venice Commission to
revise the electoral code on the outstanding issues, namely those
mentioned at the end of the previous paragraph.
96. Both resolutions also asked to set up the conditions for a fair
election campaign, including the full implementation of the law on
freedom of assembly and respect for media freedom.
97. These problems had not been fully addressed in the parliamentary
elections of November 2010 which, according to international
observers, including those of the Parliamentary Assembly, did not
constitute a significant advance in the direction of the country’s
democratic development. Observers were particularly concerned about
restrictions on media freedom and freedom of assembly, as well as
irregularities in the registration process of candidates. They also
stressed that these failures, coupled with an environment impeding
competition, have created for candidates from an uneven playing field
that the voters have limited the possibility of an informed choice.
Finally, they were concerned about credible allegations of
intimidation of voters and candidates, as well as abuse of
administrative resources, the lack of effective legal remedies against
decisions relating to electoral complaints and lack of pluralism in
coverage. Observers have expressed concern that the recommendations
contained in the 2008 opinion of the Venice Commission were not taken
98. Unfortunately, many of the issues raised in previous elections
have still not been resolved to this day. The next presidential
election is scheduled for mid-2013. During our visits, we stressed the
importance – already noted in the recommendations of the Venice
Commission – revising the Electoral Code to bring it into conformity
with European standards. We hope that this will be done for the next
election. 5.2. Party pluralism
99. Azerbaijan has many registered political parties, many of which
are critical of the authorities. However, following the November 2010
elections, several opposition parties won no seats in parliament. As
we have already indicated, the ruling party won 71 seats out of 125,
divided between 45 other independent candidates and sole
representatives of other parties that generally support the party in
power, but also adopt attitude often critical of government policies.
100. Some opposition parties, including the Musavat Party and the
Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan, have challenged the results of the
last elections. However, the authorities drew our attention to the
fragmentation of the opposition who they believe has contributed to
the defeat of the latter.
101. The political dialogue between the authorities and the main
opposition parties is largely insufficient in our eyes. We addressed
this issue in each of our visits. The authorities have pointed out
that the lack of dialogue was due to the non-constructive attitude of
the extra-parliamentary opposition.
102. However, during our interviews, representatives of the
extra-parliamentary opposition complained climate permanent weight
restriction on their activities. including restrictions on freedom of
expression and freedom of assembly, as well as lack of access to
public television, there was even, according to them, bullying and
harassment or persecution against members and supporters (we will
discuss these issues in more detail in the following chapters). They
also referred to the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights
on violations committed during the 2005 elections and a number of
cases concerning the elections of 2010, pending before the Court.
103. They expressed concern about the funding of political parties as
well as politiques45 serious logistical problems, including difficulty
in renting space for the seat of their parties and their regional
104. Following their defeat in the 2010 elections, the candidates of
the main opposition parties have created extra-December 28, 2010, the
Civic Movement for Democracy and “Public Chamber”. This great training
includes opposition leaders Musavat and Azerbaijani Popular Front
Party, as well as eight other leaders of political parties and
representatives of civil society. The stated objective of the Public
Chamber is to promote democratization and new solutions to the
problems facing the country. In a statement issued after its meeting
in January 2012, the Public Chamber has set major goals of its action:
ensure compliance with human rights and freedom of assembly and create
the conditions for the holding of elections in full respect of
105. Public Chamber does not group all the extra-parliamentary
opposition. January 12, 2012, representatives of five
extra-parliamentary opposition parties (the Popular Front Party
classical Aydinlar, the party of the public company, the Liberal
Democratic Party and Azadliq) have created a new “Resistance Movement
for a company democratic “, whose objective is to reform the electoral
law to create the conditions for elections in accordance with
democratic standards, to fight corruption and find a solution to the
problem of Nagorno-Karabakh.
106. This new movement is ready to cooperate with the Public Chamber
and the two teams are currently negotiating for a possible merger.
However, their views differ regarding the assessment of the situation
107. Regarding multi-party, we want to mention here changes the 2004
law on political parties, which have recently been adopted by
Parliament. In December 2011, the Venice Commission adopted an opinion
on these amendments at the request of gouvernement46. We wish to
acknowledge here that the government has decided to seek the expertise
of the Venice Commission, but regret that he did not take into account
all the recommendations of the latter.
108. In 2004, the Venice Commission had already formulated an opinion
on the first law on political parties and identified a number of
problems in the latter. Unfortunately, the recent proposed changes do
not address the gaps then highlighted.
109. In particular, the new draft amendments do not address the issue
of transparency in the funding and use of funds for political parties
and private donations, issue already raised by the Venice Commission
in its 2004 opinion. However, this is a major problem, which can be a
source of corruption and creates conditions of unfair competition
between the parties. More generally, the party financing remains
problematic, leading to unequal opportunities and penalizes a large
extent the opposition parties.
110. Besides the fact that they do not take into account previously
identified problems, the proposed amendments introduce new rules that
the Venice Commission in its opinion critical. For now, it is not yet
clear which body would be responsible for the dissolution of any
parties who do not respect the law. The impartiality and independence
of such a body must also be garanties47. However, we note with
satisfaction that following the recommendation of the Venice
Commission, which was available from 1 000 to 5000 the minimum number
of members required to register a political party was finally
111. The creation of an inclusive political system and an environment
conducive to the establishment of political pluralism is of particular
importance in view of the upcoming presidential election in 2013.
There is still time to address a number of issues raised repeatedly by
the opposition and civil society and the international community,
including the Parliamentary Assembly and other organs of the Council
of Europe, particularly with regard to the Electoral Code.
112. Finally, it is necessary to address the persistent problems of
restrictions on freedoms and violations of human rights (which we will
discuss in the next chapter), in order to create the conditions for a
truly competitive political environment and without barriers, such as
to promote party pluralism.
113. Once again, we emphasize our profound conviction that it is in
the best interests of the democratic process and the ruling party
itself to face the opposition in a representative body and engage
really significant political dialogue within the parliamentary
framework. 5.3. Separation and balance of powers
114. Upon accession, the Azerbaijani authorities have pledged to
“pursue reforms aimed at strengthening the independence of the
legislature vis-Ã-vis the executive, so that the former can exercise
the right to question members of the government “.
115. The Constitution of Azerbaijan, adopted in 1995, establishes a
strong presidential system, further strengthened by constitutional
amendments entered into force in 2002 and 2009. All previous
monitoring reports have highlighted the need for greater parliamentary
control over the executive to ensure the balance of power.
116. To honor this commitment and to create a mechanism for the
legislature to exercise the right to arrest members of the government,
a constitutional law “on Safeguards for the vote of confidence of the
Milli Mejlis of the government” was adopted 2001.
117. The Venice Commission observed in its avis48 that the law did not
introduce any change in the political system of Azerbaijan, but
provided a mechanism for Parliament to exercise some control over the
executive through a vote of distrust in the form of a recommendation.
Any substantial strengthening of parliamentary control would require a
revision of the Constitution by referendum. In other words, the law in
question through a mechanism yet to be established. Unfortunately,
this has not been done in a referendum on constitutional amendments in
118. The main weakness of the parliament is no real opposition. As we
have already seen, some opposition parties have no representatives in
the elected body and those who serve seem to support the party in
power in most cases. This perception, often unfounded, is reinforced
by restrictions on the possibilities of parliamentary action of
individual members in the internal regulations imposed current Milli
119. Accordance with this Regulation, it takes at least 25 members to
form a parliamentary group, representing 20% ??of total members (125).
In most Member States of the Council of Europe, this figure varies
between 3% and 5%. Such a high percentage seems especially
inappropriate in a parliament where the opposition is so fragmented.
Members who do not belong to the ruling party are either independent
or only representatives of different parties, there is a caucus, the
party in power. In addition, opportunities for parliamentary action
enjoyed by those members are extremely limited compared to members of
a parliamentary group. They are deprived of many important rights
essential to the exercise of their functions.
120. The need for a revision of the internal rules of the Milli
Meijlis has already been highlighted in the 2007 report on the
honoring of obligations and commitments by Azerbaijan, it has also
been highlighted by our interlocutors, not members of the ruling party
During our meeting in parliament. We fully share this view and believe
that strengthening the role of individual members and a decrease in
the number of members required for the creation of a parliamentary
group contribute significantly to increase the role of parliament.
121. However, there is still much to do to strengthen parliamentary
oversight of the executive and improve the balance of power in a state
with a strong presidential system. Like all our predecessors, we
stress the importance of strengthening the practical application of
the principle of separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution,
in particular by strengthening the role of parliament vis-Ã-vis the
122. The question of the independence of the judiciary is another
source of concern. We examine in a separate chapter. 5.4. Local and
123. Upon accession, Azerbaijan is committed to “sign and ratify,
within one year of its accession, the European Charter of Local
Self-Government.” The charter was ratified in 2002, since Azerbaijan
is subject to the monitoring procedure of the Congress of Local and
Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe (Congress).
124. The latest monitoring report of the Congress was presented in
October 201249. In their conclusions, the rapporteurs regret that
Azerbaijan has not made any real progress in the implementation of the
Charter for the recommendations made by the Congress in 2003. They
point out that the country does not meet certain basic principles and
provisions of the Charter. The issues raised in the monitoring report
of 2003 have not been resolved.
125. On the contrary, the situation has worsened since the adoption of
amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2009,
and in particular a new Article 146 on local autonomy, as confirmed by
the opinion of the Venice Commission on the draft amendements50 and
statements of the President of Congress cited précédemment51.
126. Authorities must undertake reforms aimed at complex
administrative and financial decentralization to develop local
autonomy. In its recent report, Congress has highlighted several
problems, including the ambiguity and lack of definition of local
autonomy. It is important that the legislation recognizes
municipalities as institutions of the State exercising public power in
the context of the country’s public administration, in accordance with
the European Charter of Local Self.
127. The unclear division of responsibilities between municipalities
and local bodies of the state leads to conflicts and undue
interference in the activities of municipalities. The hierarchical
relationship is between the local executive authorities directly
linked to central government authorities and elected municipalities do
not comply with European democratic standards and the Charter. The law
on the status of municipalities should be revised in order to define a
clear division of tasks and powers between the central system of
parallel state administration under the President of the Republic and
128. In addition, it is necessary to ensure the transparency of
mergers of local autonomy, with the participation of the
municipalities concerned, in accordance with the Charter and
consultation mechanisms it provides.
129. The bill adds to the Law on the Status of Municipalities of the
Republic of Azerbaijan presented to the Venice Commission of the
Azerbaijani authorities in 2010 did not solve these problems, as
confirmed by the opinion of the Commission Venice to sujet52. The law
has not been amended since.
130. It is important that the authorities take concrete steps to
implement capacity building programs and training of municipal
employees to improve the quality of their daily work.
131. The recommandation53 passed by Congress at the end of the debate
on the Report includes a number of measures that should be taken by
the Azerbaijani authorities to advance the implementation of the
European Charter of Local Self. We hope that the authorities will
resolve all issues raised by Congress.
132. Upon accession, Azerbaijan is committed “to amend, before the
forthcoming local elections, the current law on powers of local
authorities to enhance their skills and independence, taking into
account the recommendations made in this respect by the Congress of
Local and Regional Authorities of Europe (CLRAE). ”
133. The Electoral Code was adopted in 2003 and amended in 2008 and
2009, defines the rules for the organization and conduct of elections
for all elected bodies, including municipalities. As we have already
indicated, following a request of the Azerbaijani authorities, the
Venice Commission adopted an opinion on the amendments to the
Electoral Code immediately after their adoption in 2008. The concerns
expressed in this opinion also apply to municipal elections.
134. This was confirmed, as mentioned in an earlier chapter, the
conclusions of the Congress delegation that observed the elections in
135. In addition, observers have raised three major concerns: the lack
of genuine political pluralism parties, the scarcity of candidates
representing a real opposition and, consequently, the absence of
active campaign, the questionable nature of the process registration
and counting of votes, as well as local and regional democracy in
Azerbaijan undeveloped. 6. Rule of law 6.1. Judicial power
136. Since 2000, the Azerbaijani authorities work in close cooperation
with the Council of Europe for the reform of the judicial system.
Parliament adopted several laws to ensure greater independence of
judges and to improve judicial procedures, including the Law on the
Bar and judges (Law on Courts and Judges), according to the list of
commitments upon accession.
137. Among the laws in question, which established the Judicial Legal
Council in 2005 was a breakthrough for the proper functioning of the
judicial system. The newly adopted legislation also provided a revised
procedure for recruitment of judges following a selection process fair
and transparent developed in cooperation with the Council of Europe55.
It also extended to judges the financial rules set out in the 2004 Law
on the fight against corruption, including the submission of tax
returns and restrictions on gifts. A circuit has been developed to
enable natural and legal persons to report cases of corruption in the
judicial system. Training programs for candidates wishing to engage in
the judicial system have also been established.
138. Finally, the authorities have made significant investments in
infrastructure and building capacités56.
139. In February 2009, the President issued a decree establishing the
State Programme 2009-2013 for the development of the judicial system.
The objectives of the program included improving the quality of
legislation and the training of staff.
140. However, the undeniable progress made in the establishment of a
legislative framework must be accompanied by effective implementation
and systematic laws passed. The lack of independence of the judiciary
remains a major concern in Azerbaijan.
141. The independence of the judiciary is a prerequisite to achieving
the democratic principles of the separation and balance of powers.
>From our point of view, the Azerbaijani authorities should redouble
their efforts to ensure full independence of the judiciary, in
particular vis-Ã-vis the executive. In Azerbaijan, the executive
continues to exercise influence over the judiciary, so that the
problem persists. Our visit to the country in June 2012 was mainly
devoted to this question.
142. Accordance with the Council of Europe, the independence of the
judiciary and individual judges should be guaranteed by an independent
judiciary. It is important at the highest point that the functions of
this body, its composition and the selection of its members respect
democratic norms to ensure its independence and impartiality absolute.
143. As has been mentioned above, such a body – the Judicial Legal
Council – was established in 2005 in Azerbaijan. However, it does not
include the number of missions it to provide and implement the
independence of the judiciary, the main guarantor of independence is
the president of the country, under the Constitution of Azerbaijan.
Entrusting this responsibility to one person and not an independent
problem, and in any country.
144. The Law on the Judicial Legal Council, adopted by parliament in
2005 does not include among its functions, as described above, and to
ensure the implementation of the independence of the judiciary.
Specific areas of competence of the Judicial Legal Council include the
organization and functioning of the judiciary, including the
selection, evaluation and promotion of judges, and the exercise of
disciplinary proceedings against them, their appointment in different
positions, but also, more generally, the implementation of the
autonomy of the judiciary. From our point of view, to ensure and
strengthen the independence of the judiciary, Azerbaijan should revise
the Constitution and the Law on the Judicial Council and legal way to
endorse the main function of the Judicial Legal Council of Azerbaijan.
145. To carry out its mission, the Judicial Legal Council must be
totally independent, as described above. Accordance with the Council
of Europe, it should be composed either exclusively of judges, or a
majority of judges elected by their peers. The Judicial Legal Council
of Azerbaijan has 15 members, most of whom are judges, the others
being the representatives of the executive and legislative branches,
the prosecutors and the Bar.
146. If, in theory, the composition of the Board complies with
European standards in the field, the appointment procedure is more
problematic. Certainly, appointments are made on the basis of a
recommendation of the General Assembly of Judges, but it must always
provide at least two candidates for the same position and the final
decision is taken, depending on the position, in various organs,
including the Minister of Justice, the Constitutional Court and the
147. In other words, the selection of the majority of members of the
Board involves not only judges who elect their peers, but also the
executive. This procedure does not meet the standards of the Council
of Europe and should be revised. We recommend amending the Law on
Judicial and Legal Advice to simplify the procedure for selection and
appointment of Board members and transfer to the General Assembly of
the judges the right to select and directly elected members.
148. The executive influence on the independence of the judiciary is
further enhanced by the fact that the Council participates, to a
lesser extent, the development process of the court budget, which is
contrary to European best practices. The Law on the Judicial Legal
Council should give more powers to the Council on its own budget57.
149. Procedures for the selection, appointment and promotion of judges
are also of crucial importance to ensure the independence of the
judiciary. In particular they should be free from political
interference, which is why the role of the legislature and the
executive should be limited throughout the procedure. Unfortunately,
the current practice in this field in Azerbaijan is contrary to
European standards, given the decision-making power of the President
in the appointment of judges, power enshrined in the Constitution, the
Law on the Judicial Legal Council and the Law on judges. We urge the
authorities to revise the legislation to strengthen the role of the
Judicial Legal Council in the appointment process, by passing the
status of the body responsible for making recommendations to the
decision-making body. They should also ensure that the law provides
for the establishment of criteria for promotion of judges,
150. To ensure the independence of judges and remove any possibility
of influence on the latter, there should be a single term of office
for all and make it permanent mandate. In Azerbaijan, the rules allow
the extension of the mandate of some judges to the age of 70 instead
of 65. There should be a retirement age for mandatory retirement is
the same for all judges. Decisions on a case taken by the Judicial
Legal Council increase the risk of undue interference.
151. Moreover, security of tenure should be guaranteed up to the age
of mandatory retirement. Exceptions to this principle, in particular
those arising from disciplinary action should be clearly defined and
limited to the most serious cases. Unfortunately, the reasons for
termination of office of a judge, as defined in the law are unclear
and lacking consistency. They include the exercise of activities
incompatible with the job, a serious or multiple violations of the law
in deciding cases or unable to perform the duties of a judge following
an opinion by a medical board. These reasons are vague and offer too
much room for interpretation. We recommend revising the legislation on
the matter so that it fully complies with the standards of the Council
152. The concerns expressed in the previous paragraph also apply to
disciplinary proceedings. That the Judicial Legal Council is the only
jurisdiction to initiate such a procedure is in accordance with
European standards, but again, some reasons are unclear and are likely
to give rise to abuses. Given the concerns expressed above regarding
the composition of the Judicial Legal Council, we believe that there
is a risk of undue interference. The whole process should be more
153. The issue of fair trial has been asked repeatedly during our
interviews with civil society and is also a concern of the
international community. The OSCE systematically follows the trials
the most sensitive and most récent61 report, as well as comprehensive
information that was provided to us during our meeting in Baku, we
have been very useful.
154. Irregularities are sometimes observed at the pre-trial stage, as
appropriate arrests without warrants, preliminary hearings in camera,
it is impossible for the accused to be assisted by a lawyer or timely
access to the lawyer of his choice or the unjustified extension of the
period of detention, in violation of the law of Azerbaijan.
155. The lack of equality of arms during the trial is another source
of concern. Lawyers have complained about not having the opportunity
to challenge evidence or conflicting or erroneous arguments presented
by the prosecution as evidence, to present their own evidence or to
call a number of witnesses essential.
156. Other irregularities in the conduct of the trial have been
reported, including the refusal by a judge to allow the defense to
examine the evidence used against a defendant (for example, in the
case of participants in events April which ended August 25, 2011, it
was not responded to requests by defense lawyers to get the
presentation to the court videotapes available to analyze crimes
allegedly committed during demonstrations by the accused persons), and
convictions without clear evidence.
157. More generally, there is concern that, as in other countries with
a Soviet legacy, the courts in many cases seem to be an extension of
the prosecution. Evidenced by, among other things, the percentage of
acquittals almost zero (less than 1%). This figure was provided by the
Judicial Council at our meeting.
158. One of the main problems in the trial process is sometimes
difficult to access legal aid, especially in politically sensitive
cases. The climate has deteriorated for lawyers and human rights
159. Cases of arbitrary radiation of the Order of Lawyers of
Azerbaijan and criminal proceedings against some lawyers were also
signalés63. We are particularly concerned by reports of violations of
the Law on the Bar, particularly in connection with the election of
the chair. We hope it will soon put an end to this situation, which
undermines the rule of law.
160. Independent lawyers and human rights are also experiencing
pressures in their activities. They are the target of threats and
blackmail by the authorities, in some cases, they are deprived of the
enjoyment of their professional or experienced interference with these
rights, which is to meet with their clients or the independent
exercise of their functions, for example.
161. Several lawyers have been warnings in order to prevent them from
defending the rights of detainees. The following cases are examples
illustrating this problem: libel prosecutions have been brought
against the lawyer Khalid Bagirov for disseminating information in the
media that the police have played a role in the mistreatment Elvin
Askarov and death. However, we note with satisfaction that the case
was closed in April 2011 by the District Court in charge of the case.
162. February 4, 2011, Mr. Osman Kazimov famous defense lawyer, was
temporarily suspended by the Bar Association of Azerbaijan after being
accused of malfeasance in a criminal case. Following a favorable court
ruling, the Bar, however, relented and dropped the charges.
163. Alaif M. Hasanov, lawyer MM. Bakhtiyar Hajiev and Shahin Hasanli,
said he was the victim of a smear campaign by the local authorities in
their area of ??residence as of March 2011.
164. According to the information we obtained, few lawyers in
Azerbaijan who are willing to take care of business or political
165. We are also concerned by reports of a restrictive application of
certain articles of the Penal Code (in particular Articles 221 and
233) against participants in peaceful demonstrations but not allowed.
166. This was particularly the case of 15 persons arrested and
convicted as a result of events that took place in Baku in March-April
2011. They were convicted under Article 233 of the Penal Code for
having organized activities causing disturbance to public order or to
have participated. They were given sentences of imprisonment of one
year and a half to two and a half years. According to Amnesty
International, they were convicted solely because they have
participated in these events and / or their organization.
167. We met two activists detained in the prison No. 19 Baku to serve
sentences of two to three years’ imprisonment respectively. The
information they provided us confirm our fears.
168. Section 233 is a provision above vague and undefined. Criminal
activities that will define the “disruption of the normal activity of
transport, and businesses” to “insubordination to the authorities.”
There is no distinction between “organization” and “participation”.
The restrictive interpretation of this article by judges has
repeatedly led to the conviction of those who had called for
participation in peaceful demonstrations. The same applies to Article
221, commonly called “article on hooliganism.”
169. Allegations of corruption in the judiciary is a problem that
could undermine public confidence in the impartiality of judges.
170. Following the recommendations of GRECO, the government has
adopted a number of measures to eradicate this scourge. As part of a
campaign against corruption in the judiciary, internal oversight units
were created within the judicial institutions and a division of fight
against corruption has been established within the Judicial Legal
Council. In 2010, the Ministry of Justice stated that the Judicial
Council had initiated disciplinary proceedings against 21 judges, 11
ministry employees were disciplined and two of these cases were
forwarded to the Public Prosecutor This has resulted in a conviction.
171. Service capabilities to fight against corruption prosecutors have
been strengthened and measures have been taken for the implementation
of online services. In September 2011, the service of the fight
against corruption prosecutor announced that it had committed 133
criminal charges in 2011, of which 88 had been sent to court. 147
people were accused of corruption, abuse of dominant position, fraud
172. However, the fight against corruption requires a comprehensive
and systemic. The next chapter examines this issue in more detail.
6.2. Corruption and organized crime
173. The public sees corruption as a normal practice in Azerbaijan.
This affects the whole of society, be it politics, the executive or
the judicial system, and has a negative impact on the economic
situation. Transparency International ranked Azerbaijan among the
routinely the most corrupt countries in the world. In the 2011 ranking
of the index of perception of corruption, Azerbaijan ranked 143 th out
of 183 with a score of 2.4 out of 10. The country’s authorities have
made the fight against corruption a priority policy.
174. Upon accession, Azerbaijan is committed “to adopt, within one
year of its accession, a law on the fight against corruption and,
within two years of its accession, a program State fight against
corruption “and” sign and ratify, within two years of its accession,
the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and Civil Law Convention on
175. Azerbaijan ratified the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption
(ETS No. 173) in 2004. He then joined GRECO. Since it is subject to
the monitoring procedure of the Convention. The most recent report on
the third evaluation round of October 2010.
176. Following the ratification of the Convention, Azerbaijan
introduced in 2006 amendments to the Criminal Code provisions relating
to corruption, which marked a milestone in the compliance of national
legislation with the provisions of the Convention . The active and
passive bribery in the public sector, influence peddling, non-material
benefits and corruption through third were criminalized in accordance
with the Convention. In March 2012, the liability of legal persons was
included in the Penal Code.
177. Although Azerbaijan has made significant progress in the
criminalization of corruption, other major legislative changes are
needed, particularly with regard to both definitions, that of “public
official” must include all officers and employees public at central
and regional level and that of “bribery consumed” which should cover
also the promise of a pot of wine and acceptance of offre65.
178. In addition, the immunity of public officials should not be a
barrier to effective criminal prosecution for corruption. This
immunity should be limited to the exercise of official duties.
179. The country has made progress in establishing rules of conduct
for public officials in general, and in some jurisdictions and
professions in particular, a code of ethics for judges was
particularly established. The law requires public officials to declare
their income and assets, but the application of this requirement does
not seem to be guaranteed in practice. In addition, there are no clear
rules on conflict of interest and no legislation on the protection of
180. Although the legislation of Azerbaijan is largely compliant with
the Convention in respect of the confiscation of the proceeds of
corruption, should improve the implementation of laws vigueur67.
181. In addition, Azerbaijan should reconsider its position with
regard to the reservations made to the Convention, introduced in 2004
for a period of three years and subsequently renewed for a further
period of three years from June 2010 to June 2013. These reserves
relate to the bribery of foreign public officials, members of foreign
public assemblies and members of international parliamentary
assemblies and traffic influence68.
182. Finally, Azerbaijan should accede without further delay the
Additional Protocol to the Criminal Law Convention against Corruption
(ETS No. 191).
183. In any event, the application of the legislation remains the main
task that must tackle Azerbaijan in the fight against corruption. If
the authorities at different levels, made the fight against corruption
a priority policy, the inability to implement certain measures may be
a sign of insufficient will to translate words into deeds.
184. In 2007, Azerbaijan has developed a national strategy to
strengthen the transparency and fight against corruption, which was
complemented by an action plan for 2007-2011. We were informed that a
new action plan had been prepared and was being examined by the
government. We also learned that civil society was involved in the
development of parts of the action plan, which is in our view a
185. That said, in general, the contribution of non-governmental
organizations anticorruption activities undertaken by the government
is limited to the participation of their representatives to a working
group of the Commission for fight against corruption. One can only
regret, because NGOs could play a much greater role in this area. The
government should establish mechanisms to ensure greater participation
of civil society in anti-corruption strategy.
186. We congratulate the authorities for anti-corruption campaign
launched in 2011, which includes activities and awareness programs for
the corruption of public officials and members of the security forces,
particularly in the aspects legal and reporting of corruption. So far,
the impact has been rather modeste69.
187. The authorities have made significant progress in strengthening
the capacity of the service of the fight against corruption
prosecution, which is the main body responsible for the fight against
corruption through law enforcement. Last year, the number of agents
under the direct responsibility of the Attorney General from 60 to
100. Wages have also been raised significantly.
188. This service is composed of autonomous specialized prosecutors,
competent to investigate and prosecute in criminal cases of
corruption. They also propose measures to fight against corruption. A
hotline, the “161” was created to receive complaints from citizens
189. In 2011, the anti-corruption department handled 142 cases
involving 229 people and seized the courts. In 2012, this figure was
70 cases involving 134 people. 6.3. Execution of judgments of the
European Court of Human Rights
190. According to information provided by the Registry of the European
Court of Human Rights in 2011, 1543 cases against Azerbaijan were
pending before the Court.
191. As already mentioned, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human
Rights in the following reports the execution of judgments by the
national authorities of the States concerned. When considering the
most recent report to the Assembly in 2011, Azerbaijan has not been
included in the group of nine states experiencing major structural
problems causing delays in the execution of great concern stops.
192. All the major issues raised in this report can be found in the
judgments of the Court relating to Azerbaijan. Thus, most of the
complaints brought before the Court concern the ill-treatment in
detention, freedom of expression or non-enforcement of domestic court.
We have added to these categories of cases involving violations of
electoral rights. 7. Human rights and fundamental freedoms
193. The most recent report of the Commissioner for Human Rights of
the Council of Europe was published in June 2010. In September 2011,
the Commissioner published observations on respect for human rights in
Azerbaijan, following its report of 2010, in which it claimed that the
recommendations in the report were not acted upon .
194. The most recent report of ECRI was published in May 2011. He
raised concerns about freedom of religion.
195. In December 2011, Amnesty International published a report on
Azerbaijan. As already mentioned, the Monitoring Committee held a
hearing on this subject with the representative of Amnesty
International December 16, 2011.
196. In this chapter, we also relied on reports by Human Rights Watch,
Human Rights House and other agencies of national and international
197. In 2011, a national program of action aimed at increasing the
effectiveness of the protection of human rights and freedoms in
Azerbaijan was approved by presidential decree. This order instructed
the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) of the Republic of
Azerbaijan to lead the group coordinating the implementation of the
program, it contains various concrete measures (including the
development of legislation ) to ensure compliance with obligations and
commitments by Azerbaijan arising from international treaties and
conventions. 7.1. Alleged political prisoners and humanitarian issues
198. To date, Amnesty International considers that there are eight
people in Azerbaijan who are prisoners of conscience or continued on
the basis of fabricated charges, 15 others detained and sentenced to
two to three years in prison last year following the events of March
and April were released by court order or by presidential pardon.
199. In 2010, the European Court of Human Rights has ordered the
release of journalist Fatullayev and awarded 25,000 euros for
non-pecuniary damage. She found two violations of Article 10 of the
Convention and a violation of Articles 6.1 and 6.2 (presumption of
200. As stated earlier, the issue of prisoners suspected is processed
by our colleague from the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
of Mr. Strässer. Its report, adopted in committee last June, contained
in the agenda of the next part-session of the Assembly to be held in
January 2013 (Doc. 13079).
201. Without prejudging the forthcoming debate in the Assembly, we
would like to mention here the following important questions.
202. Firstly, a persistent problem arises in the area of ??justice in
Azerbaijan. The use of trumped up charges (see below) or the use of
certain articles of the Penal Code for law enforcement against
activists and journalists are often mentioned in reports by
international NGOs to be ignored or considered simple errors from the
courts. Repeated presidential pardons are not a solution. It is the
ultimate responsibility of judges responsible for deciding on the
merits cases and impartially, and to critically analyze the evidence
provided by the prosecution and the defense.
203. Since the beginning of our mission, we are very concerned about
the issue of alleged political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
While understanding that Azerbaijan fears of extremism and terrorist
threats, we also condemn the suppression of fundamental freedoms
through criminal prosecution. During each of our visits, we met people
who were or had been held and declared that the real reason for their
detention was their opinions and critical opinions, even if they had
been convicted within the scope of criminal charges. Their testimonies
were extremely disturbing. We discussed individual cases with the
authorities and have achieved positive results, some people have been
204. After consulting the authorities, civil society activists, NGO
representatives, journalists and independent lawyers, we urged the
authorities to review the following people in order to find a legal
remedy to issues raised: people still detained: Mamedali Dilavar
Aliyev, Mammad Asgarov Tofiq, Bayramli Anar Farzullayev Jeyhun
Hidayet, Hasanli Shahin, Ilyasov Fari, Iskandarov Zaur Shalar,
Iskenderov Vivaldi, Ismaylov Araz Vasif, Jabiyev Azer Janiyev Aydin,
Khasmammadov Taleh, Musayev Ilgar, Panahov Neymat, as well as persons
subject to indictment and awaiting trial, the situation was discussed
with the authorities: Vugar Gonagov, Zaur Guliyev, Zeynalli Avaz,
Seyidov Elnur, Mamedov Bakthiar, Amiraslanov Ilhan, Gulaliyev Ogtay,
Babayev Dayanat, Mehman Huseynov.
205. Late 2011, the Department of Justice authorized the OSCE to
conduct a number of missions to monitor human rights in places of
detention, which we consider a sign of goodwill, suggesting good
prospects for the future. 7.2. Prison conditions and abuses by
security forces 7.2.1. Torture and other ill-treatment
206. Defenders of human rights and national and international NGOs
reported several alarming cases of alleged torture and ill-treatment
in custody during the investigation phase and within prisons. Torture
have been committed in the armed forces. Finally, the police resorted
to violence against journalists covering events. At our request,
representatives of the authorities have assured us that the police
took all necessary measures to shed light on these accusations.
207. The circumstances of the death in custody of Mr Novruzali
Mammadov, editor of the newspaper Tolishi Sado in 2009, and Mr. Turaj
Zeynalli in the department of Nakhchivan Ministry of National Security
in 2011 are not clear and have not been effective investigations.
208. Mr. Afgan Mukhtarli complained of being attacked by members of
the security forces in January 2009 while covering Yeni Musavat on
assignment for a rally outside the Israeli embassy. The charges were
dropped for lack of evidence the prosecutor and the case is now
pending before the European Court of Human Rights.
209. According to local NGOs, in February 2009, agents of the National
Security of the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan have detained and
mistreated independent journalist Idrak Abbasov70.
210. Mr. Seymur Haziev, Azadliq reporter was detained and mistreated
May 15, 2010, while attending a rally where protesters called for the
lifting of restrictions on freedom of assembly. He filed a complaint
but the investigation has not been completed.
211. Several activists detained during protests in March-April 2011
and the end of the past have complained of ill-treatment during arrest
and while in custody.
212. To date, no effective investigation had been carried out in cases
involving allegations of ill-treatment against the following persons:
Mr. Hasan Karimov, vice president of Popular Front Party, was arrested
at his home without a warrant and held in conditions that endanger
their health, which resulted in his hospitalization, Mr. Tazakhan
Miramamli, president of the section of Jalilabad Popular Front Party,
which was hit by the police on 2 April 2011 during his arrest and in
custody, Mr. Tural Abbasli, who was arrested April 2, 2011, has not
been allowed to see his lawyer for the first two days of his detention
and said he was struck, Mr. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, opposition activist,
who was detained and accused of evading military service March 4,
2011, shortly after calling an event online. It would have been
threatened and beaten during his detention. June 4, 2012, the court
granted Mr. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev on parole nine months before the end of
his sentence of two years. However, no effective investigation had
been conducted into allegations of abuse, which demeurent71.
213. More recently, in December 2011, acts of torture were reported in
Nakhichevan against the defender of human rights, Mr. Zeynal
Bagirzade, in March 2012, it was learned that strong pressure was
exerted on M. Zaur Guliyev, editor of the regional broadcasting
company “Khayal”, and one of its employees, Mr. Vugar Gonagov.
214. During our visit in June 2012, we met Mr. Ogtay Gulaliyev
journalist and coordinator Kur Civil Society, a non-governmental
organization that defends the rights of residents affected by flooding
in May 2010. We note with satisfaction that he was released after
being detained for two months, since April 2012. He says he was abused
during this period and reported abuses by the police. The proceedings
against him were not dropped.
215. Allegations of abuse, as well as the climate of impunity are
confirmed by several judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.
In recent years, the Court has repeatedly stated Azerbaijan guilty of
violations of Articles 2 (right to life) and 3 (prohibition of inhuman
or degrading treatment) of the Convention.72.
216. In 2007, Mr. Jalaloglu has been successful in the case involving
the torture he suffered in prison in 2003, but no one has been
punished to date, although the identity of a the perpetrators are
217. In the case Hummatov c. Azerbaijan, the Court concluded that the
lack of adequate medical care for TB and the absence of an effective
remedy constituted a violation of Articles 3 and 13 respectivement73.
218. It is worrying to note that none of these cases has so far
resulted in prosecutions against members of the security forces.
219. That said, a much more important cases are still pending before
the Court. Thus, Mr. Emin Huseynov, journalist and director of the
IRFS, was detained in June 2008 and have been mistreated in custody.
The police abandoned the investigation and the European Court of Human
Rights has been seized of the matter. We met Mr. Huseynov several
times and heard his story.
220. The most recent report of the CPT on Azerbaijan was published in
2008. He also reported cases of ill-treatment in prison. In this
regard, we welcome the National Programme of Action approved by the
President of Azerbaijan December 27, 2011, which strengthens the
protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. This program
defines reinforced measures are investigated for the cases of
violation of human rights for prisoners, including torture,
ill-treatment and abuse. It also provides for the adoption of a new
law on the rights of persons who are arrested, as well as training for
judges and representatives of law enforcement.
221. Violence against journalists covering various events is another
source of concern. Mr. Elmin Badalov, Yeni Musavat reporter and
another reporter, Mr. Anar Gerayli claim to have been assaulted by
police July 28, 2010 while they were taking pictures for an
investigative article on luxury villas in the outskirts of Baku. They
222. On 2 April 2011, several journalists covering the protests
against the government have been prevented by representatives of law
enforcement, photograph and interview participants were then placed in
223. Some Azerbaijani journalists who followed the demolition of
housing in Baku, were assaulted. For example, Mr. Idrak Abbasov,
winner of the 2012 Journalism Awards Index-Guardian, was beaten April
18, 2012 while filming a demolition outskirts of Baku. MM. Etimad
Budagov and Nushaba Fatullayeva respectively photographer and reporter
for the news agency Turan, were assaulted while filming another
demolition Bakou76. 7.3. Freedom of expression
224. Freedom of expression in Azerbaijan raises concerns. The
situation, as described by the organizations of civil society and the
extra-parliamentary opposition, is characterized by state control of
the media, a lack of diversity in the press, a criminalization of
defamation and practices intimidation against journalists critical
aggravated by the impunity of perpetrators.
225. Supervisory bodies and international, including Reporters Without
Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Amnesty International,
Human Rights Watch and Human Rights House Foundation, we have provided
very disturbing allegations of violations of freedom of of expression.
226. In addition, serious concerns about freedom of expression have
been raised by the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of
Europe in its 2010 report on Azerbaijan and its observations on the
situation of human man in 2011, as well as the OSCE Representative on
Freedom of the Parliament and médias77 européen78.
227. Azerbaijan ranks 162 th out of 173 countries in the world ranking
of press freedom by Reporters Without Borders. This is the worst
result of all member states of the Council of Europe. Azerbaijan
happens behind countries such as Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.
228. There is a glaring lack of diversity in the media. It appears
from the study of national television channels in the country (two
state channels, public television and five private channels) conducted
within the framework of the project “Free Airways” funded by the
European Commission that the TV is used as a platform government
propaganda and there is a total absence of critiques79 opinions. In
addition, many opposition politicians and advocates of human rights do
not benefit airtime nor a sufficient coverage of their activities.
229. Upon accession, Azerbaijan is committed to “transforming national
television in public channel managed by a board of directors
independent.” The second channel of state television (AzTV2) has
legally been transformed into a public service broadcasting in 2005.
However, the first television channel state (AzTV1) remains under
state control and continues to operate with an increased budget,
despite repeated requests from the Council of Europe, the OSCE
Representative on Freedom media and the OSCE / ODIHR to remedy this
situation. In 2007, experts from the Council of Europe recommendations
to introduce legislation in safeguards to ensure the independence of
the media, but the Law on Radio and Television of Azerbaijan has
unchanged for now.
230. In addition, in 2008, the government banned three foreign radio
stations – Radio Liberty, BBC and VOA – broadcast via local
frequencies. These stations were very appreciated by the population.
231. In Azerbaijan, the advertising market is very limited in volume.
There are a few national newspapers, including two opposition
newspapers Azadliq and Yeni Musavat, which retain their editorial
independence but are distributed only 25,000 copies in a country with
more than nine million people.
232. In this context, the Internet and social media have become an
important forum for the expression of critical views and opposition.
Although electronic media are considered largely free from direct
censorship in Azerbaijan, the authorities monitor the content and
sometimes take action against those who express critical views (see
233. The legislative framework for freedom of expression is also
problematic. The Parliamentary Assembly, the OSCE Representative on
Freedom of the Media and the Commissioner for Human Rights has
repeatedly called on the authorities to remove sections 147
(defamation) and 148 (insult) of the Criminal Code, which provide for
penalties of up to three years and six months imprisonment
respectively. The European Court of Human Rights has issued several
judgments against the detention for diffamation80. Decriminalization
of defamation is an essential measure for the protection of freedom of
234. The Ministry of Justice has issued warnings to the Institute for
Liberty and security of reporters81 as well as a resource center for
the development of NGOs and democracy based in Nakhichevan, suggesting
the dissemination of “biased” via the link in
235. In recent years, journalists, including Mr. Fatullayev were
sentenced under the provisions on defamation and this practice
continues. Defamation is considered a criminal offense in Azerbaijan,
the authorities use this ground against opposition journalists to
silence critics. A particularly good example in this regard is the
case of Mr. Eyyub Karimov, editor Femida OO7, who was sentenced to 18
months of corrective labor and fined after charges against him by the
Minister of the Interior on some critical articles published in
236. Nothing in the first half of 2011, there were seven cases of
defamation against journalists, two of which resulted in a
237. The national program of action to improve the protection of human
rights and freedoms in Azerbaijan in 2012 included the adoption of a
new law to decriminalize defamation During our last visit in November
2012 we learned that the Azerbaijani authorities had requested in
September 2012, the assistance of the Venice Commission to prepare a
new law on defamation.
238. Laws relating to data protection and access to information have
been changed recently. The recent amendments to the law on obtaining
information not requiring little organs of the state to respond to
requests for public information and greatly restricts the freedom of
information Azerbaijani citizens.
239. In its report on Azerbaijan, the Commissioner for Human Rights
drew attention to the existence of a “blacklist newspaper racketeers”,
published by the Press Council azerbaïdjanais84 containing the names
of 90 newspapers who have not complied with the rules of ethics of
journalism and have resorted to blackmail. While recognizing the need
to ensure the professionalism of journalists, particularly the
Commissioner showed reservations about this approach, which could lead
to biased and arbitrary decisions. We were informed that the holding
of such a “blacklist newspaper racketeers” by the Press Council of
Azerbaijan had positive aspects. Indeed, a newspaper can be placed on
the list if it receives several warnings after complaints review
procedures conducted by the Council. This blacklist has no legal
force, but constituting a form of blame, it helps to publicize the
newspapers that do not comply with the code of conduct for
240. We have received disturbing reports regarding the use of the
charges fabricated to stop journalists, defenders of human rights,
parliamentary candidates and activists. One of the recommendations of
the 2010 report of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of
Europe was to put an end to the practice of criminal prosecution
unjustified or selective against journalists or other persons may
express critical opinions.
241. This practice can be illustrated by the example of Mr.
Fatullayev, accused in 2009 of drug possession while in prison for
defamation. He was released by presidential pardon in 2011. The case
of two activists “bloggers” in Baku, Mr. Emin (Milli) and Adnan
Hajizadeh Abdulayev, sentenced in 2010 for hooliganism and released in
2011, are similar.
242. Among the most recent examples, we can mention the situation of
Mr. Avaz Zeynalli, editor in chief of Khural, who was arrested in
October 2011 for accepting bribes wine. He defends himself by
explaining that the person who accuses him today actually offered
bribes, kickbacks in exchange for his silence, but he refused them.
Reporters Without Borders, following this case, as well as other
international monitoring bodies, believe that the charges against Mr.
Zeynalli were fabricated.
243. In November 2011, Mr. Taleh Khasmammadov, blogger and human
rights, has been accused of hooliganism and physical assault against
an officer, but he says he was prosecuted because of his blog devoted
to actions in the field of human rights.
244. Blogger and civil society activist, Mr. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, who
was paroled June 4, 2012, was sentenced in May 2011 to a term of
imprisonment of two years for evading military service, after
participating in the organization of events in March 2011 via
Facebook. The timing of his arrest and the charges against him appear
to be indicative of an attempt to give up his activities critical of
the government. In addition, his conviction relates to one of the
commitments of Azerbaijan, namely the establishment of an alternative
to military service, guaranteed by Article 76 of the Constitution. It
should be noted in this connection that the law on alternative service
has not yet been adopted (see below).
245. In May 2011, Mr. Jabbar Savalan, a member of the Youth
Association of Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan, was sentenced to two
and a half years in prison for possession of drugs. Shortly before
that, he had published several comments critical of the authorities
and called for demonstrations on social networks. Of national and
international organizations of civil society have expressed concern
about what they consider the charges fabricated. Mr. Jabbar Savalan
was released by presidential pardon in December 2011.
246. In August 2011, Mr. Vidadi Iskenderov, a candidate for the 2010
parliamentary elections, was sentenced to three years in prison for
interfering in the electoral process. He had previously denounced
fraud in these elections.
247. According to the Human Rights House Foundation, June 4, 2012,
seven journalists were in prison in Azerbaijan. Defenders of human
rights and political activists and civil society face similar problems
when issuing criticism of the authorities. Also according to the Human
Rights House Foundation, at the same time, four defenders human rights
248. During our visit Azerbaijan 12 June 2012, Mr. Mehman Huseynov,
photojournalist and blogger, was arrested and charged with physical
assault against police during an unauthorized rally against the
government, held alongside the Eurovision Song Contest the song took
place in Baku in May 2012. He was released after a few hours but the
charges were not dropped. We spoke with his brother, Mr. Emin
Huseynov, director of the Institute for Liberty and security of
reporters, who believes that putting pressure on a photojournalist
returns to put pressure on all participants in the campaign “Singing
for democracy. ”
249. In recent years, people detained for reasons related to the
exercise of their right to freedom of expression were often released
before the end of their sentence (as was the case of Mr. Fatullayev
end of May 2011, and bloggers Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade). However,
all these former prisoners retain a record, which is an obvious
handicap for their future lives.
250. The false accusations and imprisonment are not the only threats
to journalists who investigate violations of human rights and report
them: they are also sometimes abused. According to the 2012 Human
Rights Report on Azerbaijan World, there were in 2011 more than 50
reported cases of harassment or assault against journalists. In the
vast majority of cases, the perpetrators have not been brought to
251. The murder of the editor of the magazine Monitor, Elmar Huseynov
in 2005, and the fatal assault against the journalist and writer Rafiq
Tagi in 2011 remain unresolved and ongoing investigations have failed.
252. Mr. Seymur Haziyev, a journalist with the opposition Azadliq, was
beaten March 26, 2011. In his words, the attackers would have warned
against writing critical articles. His case was recently dismissed by
the Court of Appeal for further investigation. We urged the
authorities to shed light on this matter.
253. Mr. Khalil, corresponding investigation of Azadliq, was the
victim of several attacks, including one with a knife. Although he
reported to the local police death threats he had received, no
protective measures have been taken against her.
254. April 3, 2011, another journalist of Azadliq, Mr. Ramin Deko, was
physically assaulted and warned against writing critical articles.
255. According to Human Rights Watch documents the harassment,
assault, intimidation and threats against journalists Azerbaijan have
increased in recent years. In almost all cases documented by Human
Rights Watch, journalists have complained, but there has been no
effective investigation had resulted in prosecution of the
perpetrators of these actes86.
256. On 7 March 2012, investigative journalist for Radio Free Europe,
Khadija Ismailova, investigating complaints about a possible conflict
of interest in a project to build profit in the city of Baku, has
received photographs taken in camera hidden in his apartment, showing
in its intimacy, accompanied by a letter threatening a publication of
photographs on the Internet if she did not stop his investigation. The
journalist has publicly denounced this attempt to blackmail. This led
to the publication of the video – an act that the authorities have
openly condemned. According to the information received, the Attorney
General’s Office has opened a criminal investigation in response to
the complaint of Ms. Ismailova. The investigation is ongoing. To date,
no one has yet been brought to justice. 7.4. Freedom of assembly
257. Since the beginning of 2006, local authorities in Baku
systematically ban public gatherings in the city center on the grounds
that they disturb the population. The events of this type must
therefore take place in areas officially designated for this purpose,
remote from the town center and therefore urban life. The events that
take place without prior authorization are often dispersed by force
and lead to arrests, and in some cases sentences of administrative
detention or imprisonment excessively severe.
258. Freedom of assembly was severely violated in 2011, especially in
March and April, with the detention of nearly 200 people, including
the head of the youth organization of the Musavat party, Mr. Tural
Abbasli, the result of unauthorized demonstrations in the center of
Baku. According to activists, the protests have sometimes been
dispersed by the excessive use of force and the work of journalists
has been hampered. According to authorities, 13 police officers were
injured, more than 20 vehicles were damaged and the windows of 17
stores and banks were smashed by protesters. Video recordings confirm
to some extent the allegations of both sides.
259. Azerbaijani courts have sentenced at least 30 people to jail
terms ranging from five to eight days in prison under closed trial. In
addition, most of the defendants were not allowed to contact their
lawyers. Fourteen people have been sentenced to a year and a half to
three years in prison for participating in “actions detrimental to
public order”, following trials which compliance with the standards of
human man was challenged by NGOs and human rights.
260. As we have already mentioned, during our visit in February 2012,
we visited two activists in prison Musavat and Popular Front Party
sentenced to two and three years imprisonment for vandalism. They
described the circumstances of their detention, confirming fears of
civil society nationally and internationally.
261. To date, no participant in these events is no longer in
detention. During our last two visits, we urged that all persons are
released without delay by all legal means.
262. In March 2012, the Baku police used force to disperse a peaceful
but unauthorized demonstration in the city center. Four young
activists were beaten and 14 demonstrators and a journalist covering
the event were arrested.
263. Also in March 2012, Guba nearly 1000 people took to the streets
to demand the resignation of the head of the local executive. This
peaceful demonstration was brutally dispersed by riot police. At least
two journalists were seriously blessés87.
264. Unauthorized demonstrations near the place where stood the
Eurovision Song Contest were also dispersed.
265. In all the above cases, the organizers did not have the right to
protest in the center of Baku, the authorities have proposed
alternative sites on the outskirts of the city. The Commissioner for
Human Rights has publicly denounced this method of restriction of
freedom of assembly. The jurisprudence of the European Court of Human
homme88 indicates that such a refusal by the authorities constitutes a
violation of Article 11 of the Convention.
266. It is worrying to see that the Parliament has recently adopted
amendments to the Criminal Code and the Administrative Code, which aim
to increase the penalties imposed on the participants and organizers
of unauthorized demonstrations. It is likely that these changes,
combined with the general prohibition and continued rallies in Baku
will further restrict the freedoms of assembly and expression. During
our discussions with the authorities, we have insisted on the need to
find a compromise with the event organizers and designate a place in
Baku might suit them and at the same time, meet the safety
267. The OSCE / ODIHR and the Venice Commission have jointly published
guidelines relating to freedom of peaceful assembly (Guidelines on
Freedom of Peaceful Assembly), the legislators and should emulate.
7.5. Freedom of association
268. According to authorities, over 2700 NGOs are registered in
Azerbaijan. The vast majority of them consist of people who share the
same interests and strive to promote (eg the elderly, women, war
veterans, IDPs, etc.)..
269. The government encourages civil activism in certain areas and for
this purpose receives the support of the international community,
including the Council of Europe and the OSCE in the context of
cooperation programs. When we were in Guba, we met with a
representative of an association to help local NGOs to carry out their
activities. This work is funded in part by the government and partly
by international NGO projects.
270. However, NGOs working in the field of human rights and freedoms,
especially those who openly criticize the government faced some
271. The issue of registration of NGOs remains problematic. Changes to
the law on NGOs adopted on 9 June 2009 have introduced a number of
restrictive provisions concerning international NGOs, including those
prohibiting foreign NGOs to operate unless they are not based on a
formal international agreement . The procedure to follow to conclude
such an agreement, which was announced by the Government in a decree
published on 16 March 2011 only, is not clear.
272. However, March 10, 2011, the antenna Azerbaijani Human Rights
House Foundation was closed following a notification from the service
registry of the Ministry of Justice that the foundation had not
concluded agreement with the department, as required by the amendments
to the Law on NGOs. This organization recently chose a local
coordinator and continues its activities in the country. In addition,
another international NGO in Azerbaijan since the mid-1990s, the
National Democratic Institute was closed.
273. The aforementioned decree further provides that international
organizations must respect the “national and moral values” and not
engage in “political or religious propaganda” patterns that can always
be an excuse for not registering an NGO . These terms are too vague
and can be misinterpreted.
274. National NGOs meet, they also experience difficulties in
exercising their activités89. Although the regulation does not
establish Azerbaijani national expressly required to register local
NGOs, the latter must be registered to acquire legal personality
necessary for their operation. Therefore, in most cases, NGOs applying
for registration to the Ministry of Justice. That said, they are
sometimes the subject of a restrictive application of the regulation,
which results in long waiting times or lack of response to requests
for formal registration. In many cases, the refusal of registration
did not specify the legal basis on which the decision was based
negative. According to the NGO “Human Rights Home Foundation” based in
Norway, EMDEC (Election Monitoring and Democracy Education Centre),
well known NGO, found himself in this situation90.
275. On 3 October 2011, the Conference of International
Non-Governmental Council of Europe denounced the amendments to the Law
on NGOs adopted a recommendation in which it invited the Azerbaijani
authorities to revise the law.
276. In a legal opinion issued in October 2011, the Venice Commission
identified a number of issues mainly concerning the registration
procedure. She felt that the changes in 2009 and the Decree of 2011
were a step backwards compared to previous efforts to comply with
277. Finally, for several months, some national and international NGOs
face difficulties in exercising their activities in full freedom.
There have been reports of threats and acts of harassment against
members of civil society, including human rights defenders and their
human families. The problems mentioned in the previous chapter on
freedom of expression are directly related to the activities of civil
society in Azerbaijan. 7.6. Demolition of
278. The mayor of Baku in 2009 launched a campaign of expropriation
for the construction of a “park-gardens” among other architectural
projects, as part of a reconstruction program. The people who refused
to be compensated or resettled were expelled. According to the
authorities, some of them complained of the amount of financial
compensation, but a large majority accepted the proposal standard.
279. During our meetings with representatives of civil society,
criticism has been expressed about this. The problems are multiple:
first, the whole process lacks transparency. The long-term planning is
not subject to public disclosure sufficient, there is no public access
to documentation, procedures and decisions are unclear and the notice
after which the inhabitants are required to leave their homes
sometimes very short. We were informed that no hearings in which
residents have challenged the demolition of their homes before the
courts, the authorities of the city of Baku has presented a program of
280. Second, forced evictions are contrary to the Azerbaijani
legislation in force, which guarantees the right to private property
and does not allow the expropriation in limited circumstances,
including on issues of national defense or for the purpose of Etat91.
Expropriation must also be based on an order of a tribunal92. Many
demolitions have occurred without such order or, in some cases,
despite court orders prohibiting the demolition before the end of the
281. Third, a single financial compensation 1,900 dollars per square
meter has been defined, regardless of usage, age or condition of
homes. The authorities have explained that to destroy homes were
mostly old and dilapidated. Moreover, it became clear during the
discussions that the price 5000 dollars per square meter raised
concerned only well-located apartments in newly constructed buildings.
Residents did not receive compensation for the land on which their
houses were built, contrary to the provisions of the law.
282. In addition, to date, 30 houses that had been classified as
buildings of architectural interest by Decision No. 132 (2001) of the
government were démolies93. Their owners have obtained the same
283. Many elements, including video recordings show that the police
actively participated forcées94 evictions.
284. August 12, 2011, the building that housed several organizations
human rights, including the renowned Institute for Peace and
Democracy, was bulldozed. We spoke with the director of the institute,
Ms. Leyla Yunus, defender of human rights who has long fought against
forced evictions. We learned that the staff of the institute was not
allowed to remove the hardware (computers, etc.).. Dr. Yunus has
estimated the market value of his property to 625,000 dollars, while
the authorities considered that the total area of ??the apartment and
the office of the institute was only 85 m2, a demand of more than 7300
dollars per square meter. Dr. Yunus also claims not to have received
any notice of eviction. Having initiated a lawsuit against the city in
February 2011, she was awarded in May a decision of a court of local
commerce ordering the suspension of all demolition work until the end
of the procedure. In other words, the eviction violated the court’s
decision. However, Dr. Yunus has not pursued his civil action. 7.7.
Freedom of conscience and religion
285. According to official figures, 97% of the population of
Azerbaijan (which has 9 million) is Muslim. The rest of the population
consists mainly of Russian Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, other
Christian groups, Jews and non-believers.
286. The Constitution of Azerbaijan guarantees religious freedom.
However, other laws and enforcement policies raise concerns they may
have restrictions on freedom of conscience and religion.
287. Certain conditions already restrictive religious communities have
been strengthened by the adoption, in May 2009, amendments to the law
on freedom of religion forcing religious communities to re-register in
order to continue their activities. In addition, higher fines can now
be imposed on aliens or stateless persons who are religious
propaganda, and people who practice their rites to any address other
than that registered by their religious community, who publish, import
or export religious literature without the prior permission of the
State Committee for Relations with Religious Organizations, which
distribute religious literature without authorization, selling
religious books outside licensed premises or engage in activities
proselytism not provided by the statutes of their religious community.
288. In its most recent report on Azerbaijan, ECRI expressed its deep
concern over the situation, saying it was not in accordance with the
jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, and more
Specifically, the case law on the practice of religious activities in
private and restrictions prior to publication, as well as the
distinction made by the Court between, on the one hand, the religious
witness and, secondly, proselytizing abusive.
289. Some groups have had no difficulty in complying with the
requirement to re-register all religious groups regardless of their
previous status, came into force in 2010. However, other groups were
denied registration and find themselves in limbo. This is particularly
the case in some communities of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists,
Seventh-day Adventists, the Fatima Zahra mosque, the Baku
International Fellowship Baptist Church of Aliabad Cathedral and the
church of Praise, the church Nehemiah and the Pentecostal Church.
290. According to figures provided by the Ministry of Justice, before
the entry into force of the amendments of 2010, there were 534
registered religious communities.
291. At the date of December 2010, the State Committee has indicated
that a total of 576 religious communities were registered, of which
493 were Muslim, Christian 9, 6 Jewish, 1 Hare Krisjna Baha’I and 1,
and 17 non- Muslim. The registration process is underway for other
groups. However, some communities complained that they had received
conflicting answers, despite repeated attempts to re. Seven groups
received a negative response. According to the jurisprudence of the
European Court of Human Rights, any denial of reinstatement
communities that already existed in the country for some time and
there were operating legally must be based on reasons particularly
compelling and strong.
292. Some communities have challenged the negative decision of the
authorities to court.
293. In December 2010, the Parliament adopted a law that greatly
increased the fines for violating laws on religious activities,
particularly with regard to the importation of certain religious
materials. Under the previous law, a person convicted of a violation
alone (production, import or distribution of religious literature
without authorization from the State Committee and “religious
propaganda” by foreigners) was fined 100 300 manat (about 105 to 315
euros). Under the new law, an individual convicted of the same
violation is liable to a fine of 1 500 to 2 000 manat (about 1 580-2
294. Amendments to the legislation adopted in 2011 led to a further
tightening of rules for the creation of a religious community and
established a reporting requirement to the Board of Muslims of the
Caucasus and the State Committee of Community Relations religion,
which has greatly increased the severity of penalties. Registration
requirements are also imposed stringent religious groups. The opinion
of the Venice Commission adopted in October 2012. We urge the
Azerbaijani authorities to tackle these problems and to follow the
recommendations contained in this notice.
295. At our request, the Monitoring Committee decided, at its meeting
of May 31, 2012, to solicit the opinion of the Venice Commission on
the law relating to religious freedom.
296. During our visit in June 2012, we, admittedly, been marked by our
meeting with representatives of the major faiths in Azerbaijan
(Muslim, Orthodox, Catholics and Jews). According to them, the
conditions of worship are entirely satisfactory and cooperation
between faiths is exemplary, which confirms the climate of religious
tolerance that prevails in the country. They all insisted that they
are totally free to practice their religion and that they fully adhere
to the policy of the Azerbaijani authorities regarding freedom of
religion. They invited the European Union to focus on this specific
aspect of Azerbaijani society and make the country unequivocal support
to encourage the policy of religious tolerance to the borders of
297. While the traditional religious communities encounter no obstacle
to the exercise of their religion, we received information that the
authorities have monitored and searched some services, or confiscated
religious materials to small sectarian religious groups. The current
controversy regarding the official ban of the hijab (headscarf) in
schools and detention of leaders of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan in
2011 could lead to a rise of religious extremism in an otherwise
tolerant . 7.8. Replacement Service
298. Upon accession, Azerbaijan is committed “to adopt a law on
alternative service in compliance with European standards within two
years of its accession, and in the meantime, to pardon all
conscientious objectors currently serving prison prison or serving in
disciplinary battalions, allowing them (once the law on alternative
service in force) to choose to do their military service in non-armed
service or alternative civilian. ”
299. The Constitution of Azerbaijan contains a provision expressly
stating that if military service is contrary to the beliefs of a
person, an alternative form of military service may, in the cases
provided by law, be permitted instead of ordinary military service
(Article 76.II). Unfortunately, the corresponding law was never
300. A bill has been prepared and has been the subject of an opinion
of the Venice Commission in 2006, but was not adopted.
301. The authorities told us during our visits that the delay was due
to the unresolved conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.
However, during our visit in June 2012, we were pleased to learn that
the law on alternative service was being prepared.
302. We urge the authorities to adopt without delay a law on
alternative civilian service in accordance with the Council of Europe,
and in the meantime not to prosecute or imprison conscientious
objectors to military service, but offer them the opportunity to
fulfill their duty to the company in accordance with their beliefs.
7.9. Protection of minorities, xenophobia and intolerance
303. Azerbaijan is a country of multi-ethnic and multi-cultural. The
main ethnic groups of the population are Azerbaijanis (91.6%), the
Lezgins (2.02%), Armenians (1.35%), Russians (1.35%), the Talish (1.26
%), Avars (0.56%) and Turkey (0.43%). Upon accession, Azerbaijan is
committed to adopt, within three years of its accession, “a law on
minorities which completes the provisions on non-discrimination
contained in the Constitution and the Penal Code and which replaces
the presidential decree on national minorities. ”
304. Since it ratified the Framework Convention for the Protection of
National Minorities (ETS No. 157) in June 2000, Azerbaijan is subject
to the procedure for monitoring the Convention. The most recent report
of the Advisory Committee since 2008. The most recent state report was
presented in 2011.
305. The legal and institutional framework applicable to the
protection of national minorities in Azerbaijan is very limited. The
law on minorities, which is one of the country’s commitments, subject
to public debate for several years but has not yet been adopted so far
and the main legislative basis for the policy to against minorities
remain the Presidential Decree of 1992 on Rights and Freedoms of
National Minorities and Article 45 of the Constitution which
guarantees the right to follow an education in a minority language.
306. In addition, there is no institutional structure to deal
specifically and regularly issues relating to the protection of
national minorities. There is no mechanism for consultation and the
effective participation of persons belonging to national minorities in
decision-making on issues that affect them.
307. Although efforts have been made to preserve cultural monuments of
national minorities, including places of worship, but the policies of
national minorities and their organizations’ activities are rare. In
addition, there is no institutional system of granting aid to minority
308. There is to be welcomed, however, progress in the field of
minority education, and the fact that there are schools where the
entire program is taught in Russian or Georgian. It is also possible
to study other minority languages ??in primary schools in areas where
309. Persons belonging to national minorities are present in the
political life of Azerbaijan, including in elected bodies. However,
they would not have a real way to defend the interests and express the
concerns of minorities. 7.10. The institution of the Ombudsman
310. The Constitutional Law on the Commissioner of Human Rights of the
Republic of Azerbaijan was proclaimed in 2002. The Ombudsman is
elected by the Parliament from among three candidates nominated by the
President of the Republic. Since the establishment of the institution,
this position is occupied by Mrs. Elmira Suleymanova, we met several
times. The commissioner’s office has four regional centers.
311. In addition to handling individual complaints concerning
violations of human rights, the Commissioner may report to Parliament
proposals for the revision of the legislation.
312. The presidential decree of 2009 has designated the Commissioner
as the national mechanism for the prevention of torture. The
Commissioner is authorized to make regular visits to places of
detention centers, isolation, isolation cells used during
investigations, prisons, prisons and psychiatric institutions. It
publishes periodic reports containing its conclusions95 and makes
proposals to solve the problems identified.
313. As mentioned above, the Commissioner is also responsible for
cooperation on the implementation of the National Action Plan for the
protection of human rights. Appendix 1 – Table of legislation
introduced by Azerbaijan towards achieving its commitments as set out
in Notice 222 (2000) of the Parliamentary Assembly on the application
for membership of Azerbaijan Council of Europe
Schedule of Commitments
i. on conventions:
a. to sign at the time of its accession, the European Convention on
Human Rights, as amended by Protocols Nos. 2 and 11, and Protocols
Nos. 1, 4, 6 and 7;
Signed on 25 January 2001.
b. to ratify the Convention and its Protocols Nos. 1, 4, 6 and 7 in
the year following its accession;
Ratified on 15 April 2002.
c. to sign and ratify, within one year of its accession, the European
Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment and its protocols;
Ratified on 15 April 2002.
d. to sign and ratify, within one year of its accession, the Framework
Convention of the Council of Europe for the Protection of National
Ratified on 26 June 2000.
e. to sign and ratify, within one year of its accession, the European
Charter for Regional or Minority Languages;
December 21, 2001 signed but not ratified.
f. to sign and ratify, within one year of its accession, the European
Charter of Local Self-Government
Ratified on 15 April 2002.
g. to sign and ratify, within two years of its accession, the European
Outline Convention on Transfrontier Cooperation between Territorial
Communities or Authorities and its additional protocols and
conventions of the Council of Europe relating to extradition, Mutual
Assistance in Criminal Matters, the Convention on Laundering, Search,
Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the
transfer of sentenced persons, and meanwhile to apply their
Framework Convention on Transfrontier Cooperation was ratified on 30
March 2004, agreements on extradition in 2002, the Convention on
Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters and its Additional Protocol and
the Convention on Laundering, Search , Seizure and Confiscation of the
Proceeds from Crime July 4, 2003 and the Convention on the Transfer of
Sentenced Persons 25 January 2001.
The updated version of the Convention on Money Laundering and the
Financing of Terrorism (CETS No. 198), not signed.
h. to sign, within two years of its accession, the European Social
Charter, to ratify within three years of its accession, and now, to
strive to implement policies consistent with the principles of the
Ratified on 2 September 2004.
i. to sign and ratify, within two years of its accession, the Criminal
Law Convention on Corruption and Civil Law Convention on Corruption;
Ratified on 11 February 2004.
j. to sign the General Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the
Council of Europe and its additional protocols at the time of its
accession and ratify within a year of its accession;
Ratified on 16 January 2002.
ii. in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh:
a. to continue efforts to resolve the conflict by peaceful means;
Negotiations are underway within the Minsk Group of the OSCE.
b. to settle international and domestic disputes by peaceful means and
in accordance with the principles of international law (obligation of
all Member States of the Council of Europe), resolutely rejecting any
threatened use of force against its neighbors;
iii. in domestic legislation:
a. to revise the legislation on elections, particularly the Law on the
Central Election Commission and the Electoral Act, taking into account
the recommendations made by international observers during previous
elections, so that the next parliamentary elections in autumn 2000
confirm definitively the progress made and their results are accepted
by the majority of political parties participating in elections, and
they can be considered free and fair by international observers;
Legislation on elections is not fully consistent with the standards of
the Council of Europe.
In its 2008 opinion, the Venice Commission has highlighted a number of
problems in the Election Code, particularly with regard to the
composition of the Central Election Commission (CEC) and the
territorial election commissions, registration of candidates,
observers, the electoral and accuracy, as well as the procedure for
complaints and appeals.
In two consecutive resolutions on the functioning of democratic
institutions in Azerbaijan, in 2008 and 2010, the Assembly requested
the authorities to revise the laws.
b. to amend, before the forthcoming local elections, the current law
on powers of local authorities to enhance their skills and
independence, taking into account the recommendations made in this
respect by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities (CLRAE);
In 2003, Congress passed several recommendations to the Azerbaijani
authorities on the introduction of a new legislation on local and
In 2009, Congress was concerned by the amendment to the Constitution
relating to local democracy.
Also in 2009, the Venice Commission was concerned by the draft
amendment to the law on the status of municipalities developed to
ensure the implementation of this constitutional change.
In 2012, Congress concluded that there had been no real progress in
the implementation of the European Charter of Local Self.
c. to pursue reforms aimed at strengthening the independence of the
legislature vis-Ã-vis the executive, so that the former can exercise
the right to question members of the government;
Constitutional Law “on Safeguards for the vote of confidence of the
Milli Mejlis of the government” adopted in 2001 provides for the
Legislature, a right to arrest members of the government. However, as
noted by the Venice Commission in 2001, the adoption of the
aforementioned constitutional law does not give Parliament the right
to cast a vote of no confidence in the government.
d. to adopt, within one year of its accession, the Code of Criminal
Procedure, taking into account the comments of the experts of the
Council of Europe;
The Code of Criminal Procedure has been prepared with the assistance
of experts of the Council of Europe, but their comments were not taken
e. to adopt, within one year of its accession, the law on the Ombudsman;
An Ombudsman Act was adopted on 28 December 2001.
f. to adopt, within one year of its accession, a law on the fight
against corruption and, within two years of its accession, a state
program of fight against corruption;
A law on the fight against corruption was adopted on 13 January 2004.
A national strategy against corruption and an action plan for its
implementation over the period 2007-2011, developed in cooperation
with the Council of Europe, adopted by presidential decree in July
Azerbaijan has made significant progress with regard to the
criminalization of corruption, but according to the GRECO reports,
other legislative changes are needed, particularly with regard to the
definition of “public official “and” bribery consumed. ”
g. to adopt a law on alternative service in compliance with European
standards within two years of its accession, and in the meantime, to
pardon all conscientious objectors currently serving prison sentences
or serving in disciplinary battalions, allowing them (a when the law
on alternative service in force) to choose to do their military
service in non-armed service or alternative civilian
No law on alternative service has been adopted. A bill has been
prepared and has been assessed by the Council of Europe in 2006.
iv. for human rights and fundamental freedoms:
a. to sign an agreement with the International Committee of the Red
Cross (ICRC) to ensure access of the latter to prisoners without
restrictions and without reservations;
Regular visits to places of detention are organized by the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
b. to release or retry those prisoners who are considered “political
prisoners” by organizations to protect human rights, including Mr.
Iskander Gamidov, M. and M. Alikram Gumbatov Raqim Gaziyev;
Records of prisoners who have been identified as political prisoners
by the independent experts of the Secretary General in 2001 and
2002-2004 (“list of 716”) were closed, all those people who have been
released or retried.
Since then, the Parliamentary Assembly has raised the issue of alleged
political prisoners in Azerbaijan in Resolutions 1547 (2007) and 1676
(2009). The report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
on the subject will be debated in the Assembly during the part-session
in January 2013.
c. to prosecute members of the bodies responsible for enforcing the
law did not respect human rights (including the prohibition of
torture) in the exercise of their functions;
Cases of torture and other ill-treatment remain a source of concern in
Azerbaijan. Defenders of human rights and national and international
NGOs reported several alarming cases of alleged torture and
ill-treatment in custody during the investigation phase and in
prisons. The police also used violence against journalists covering
No effective investigation had been carried out in most cases.
d. to guarantee freedom of expression and independence of the media
and journalists, particularly to exclude the use of administrative
measures to restrict the freedom of the media;
The current state of freedom of expression in Azerbaijan raises
serious concerns. It is threatened by several factors: the state
control of the media, the lack of diversity in the press, the
criminalization of defamation and the use of repressive legislation on
defamation and practices of engaging of unjustified or selective
prosecution against journalists or others who may express critical
opinions, but also and especially cases of harassment and violence
against journalists critical aggravated by the impunity of
e. to review and amend, within two years later after his accession,
the law on the media;
See comments above.
f. to transform national television in public channel managed by a
board of directors independent;
The second channel of state television (AzTV2) has legally been
transformed into public service broadcasting, but the first television
channel state (AzTV1) remains under state control.
The Parliamentary Assembly and institutions such as the OSCE
Representative on Freedom of the Media and the OSCE / ODIHR in the
elections, have all highlighted the lack of independence of these two
In June 2007, experts from the Council of Europe recommendations to
introduce legislation in safeguards to ensure such independence (see
ATCM (2007) 11), but the law on radio and television Azerbaijan has
not been modified.
g. to adopt, within three years of its accession, a law on minorities
which completes the provisions on non-discrimination contained in the
Constitution and the Penal Code and replaces the presidential decree
on National Minorities;
No specific law on the Protection of National Minorities was adopted
for the moment.
h. to review and amend, within a year later after his accession, the
criteria for registration of associations and procedures.
The Venice Commission, in its opinion, has raised a number of issues
regarding the law on NGOs. Appendix 2 – Dissenting opinion by MM.
Davit Harutyunyan (Armenia, EDG) and Armen Rustamyan (Armenia, SOC),
members of the Committee suivi96
We disagree with certain conclusions of rapporteurs for Azerbaijan as
well as the choice of words used in the report entitled “Honouring of
obligations and commitments by Azerbaijan,” especially in regard to
part of this report on the Nagorno-Karabakh, for the following
– The information in the report is biased.
– The information, very often, is the echo of the propaganda of
– The formulation used is not consistent with the agreed and used by
the Minsk Group of the OSCE – the only internationally recognized
format allowed to address the issue of settlement of the
For these reasons, the findings on all aspects of the conflict are
misleading and do not reflect the situation on the ground.
Below is our objections to the report and the explanatory memorandum
Despite the current debate on the matter Safarov held during the
part-session of the Assembly autumn 2012 despite the severe
condemnation and by the international community (including the
President of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Secretary General Council
of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the Chair of ECRI, etc.).
outrageous acts of the Azerbaijani authorities regarding the release
and the glorification of a murderer, these actions are unacceptable
and intolerable raised by the co-rapporteurs in a neutral sentence. In
addition, they say nothing about the misuse of Azerbaijan to the
Convention of the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of
Paragraphs 21 and 26
In these paragraphs, the co-rapporteurs use the words “ongoing
conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.” This wording does not
match the format agreed by the Minsk Group of the OSCE format only
internationally recognized and accepted to address the issue of
The three reference principles recognized by the Minsk Group of the
OSCE, and by default, all member states of this organization – States
that are also members of the Council of Europe – are the “right to
self, “the” non-use of force and threat of force “and” territorial
The wording proposed by the co-rapporteurs reflects the position of
the Azerbaijani authorities to which the conflict is territorial
order. This assertion is without merit, and the population of
Nagorno-Karabakh has exercised its right to self-determination.
However, as noted above, this right is recognized by the Minsk Group
and by Azerbaijan itself (see, for example, the Ministerial
Declaration of Astana, OSCE, 2010).
In addition, there are three parties to the conflict: Azerbaijan,
Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia is indeed “conditionally” party
to the conflict to the extent that the international community in
general, and Parliamentary Assembly in particular, have asked “to use
its considerable influence on the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh to
foster conflict resolution” (see Opinion 221 (2000) of the
Parliamentary Assembly application for membership of Armenia to the
Council of Europe, paragraph 13.2. b). Protocol cease-fire was signed
in Bishkek in 1994 by the elected representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh.
If a peace agreement is reached, it must be signed by the authorities
of the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The words “Nagorno-Karabakh” are the only ones recognized by the
co-chairs of the Minsk Group, who use them in all their communications
and official statements. We believe that our organization should avoid
distorting any agreed term, especially when it comes to dealing with
complex and highly political issues such as the conflict over
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In this section, the co-rapporteurs insist that “the international
community, which can be blamed for failing to comply with its
resolutions in relation to the conflict, has also considerable
political pressure on Azerbaijan in other areas. ” In doing so, they
only unfortunately take the position that the Azerbaijani authorities
pretext of conflict in order to justify the lack of implementation of
their commitments to human rights, rule of law and democracy. We
believe that the international community has no undue pressure on the
Government of Azerbaijan. In its 1999 resolution on supporting the
peace process in the Caucasus region, the European Parliament states
that “the strengthening of democracy and respect for human rights are
essential conditions for a peaceful solution to the conflict Karabakh.
” The existence of a conflict does not justify the lack of progress in
other areas. We believe that the co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary
Assembly should not follow the reasoning of the Government of
Azerbaijan but rather insist on the fact that nothing justifies the
lack of implementation of commitments.
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In this section, the co-rapporteurs say: “Eighteen years after the
cease-fire, no peaceful solution was found almost 20% of Azerbaijani
territory, including Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts,
is always busy. Some 900,000 people, or 10% of the country’s
population, remain displaced, which weighs heavily on the economic and
social situation of Azerbaijan “97.
The question of the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding
areas of state is one of the main issues being negotiated under the
Madrid principles reiterated in the Declaration of the G8 Summit in
L’Aquila and statements consecutive G8 Muskoka and Deauville, and the
Declaration of the G20 Los Cabos (the Presidents U.S., Russian and
French). While the Council of Europe has recognized the format of the
Minsk Group and the ongoing negotiations within the framework of the
latter, should not the documents adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly
deviate from this format because negotiations could suffer. That is
why when they speak the status or condition of the areas affected by
the conflict, the co-rapporteurs should not forget that these issues
are currently the subject of negotiations are not completed. Regarding
the figures for the territories, it is better not to mention, those
cities are far from reality.
In addition, it should be taken into account paragraph 10 of the
European Parliament resolution of 20 May 2010 “on the need for a
strategy of the European Union for the South Caucasus” (2009/2216
(INI)) according which “should be abandoned quickly position that the
Nagorno-Karabakh includes all occupied Azerbaijani territories that
surround it, (…) the provisional status of Nagorno-Karabakh could be
a solution pending the determination of its status final and create a
transitional framework for peaceful coexistence and cooperation
between the Armenian and Azerbaijani populations in the region. ” Do
not forget that the cease-fire in 1994, called “Bishkek Protocol” was
signed by all parties to the conflict: Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and
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The figures on IDPs provided by the co-rapporteurs are absolutely not
reliable. However, the co-rapporteurs refer to Doc. 11,196 missing
persons in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia from the conflicts over the
Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia to justify their
assertions in this regard, which calls for several comments:
– The Doc. 11196, which deals only with issues relating to missing
persons, has no numbers.
– All international documents show the figures of the UN High
Commissioner for Refugees, including the European Parliament
Resolution of 1999 on support for the peace process in the Caucasus
region. In particular, it is stated in paragraph B of this text that
“the war has led to serious human problems, mainly because of the
displacement of over a million people of Armenia, Karabakh and
Azerbaijan.” Documents of the Parliamentary Assembly on the issue are:
Doc. 7250 (1995) on the humanitarian situation of refugees and
displaced persons in Armenia and Azerbaijan (rapporteur David
Atkinson), Doc. 9480 (2002) on the situation of refugees and displaced
persons in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia (Rapporteur: Ruth-Gaby
Vermot-Mangold) and Doc. 10835 (2006) on refugees and displaced
persons in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia (rapporteur: Boriss
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In this section, the co-rapporteurs insist that “mediation efforts
brought only very limited progress in the investigation of violations
of the cease-fire.” The co-rapporteurs, who know very well the real
situation, keep to note that the only obstacle to progress is the
official refusal opposed by Azerbaijan to the creation, in the format
of the OSCE, the investigation mechanism violations of the line of
contact. Azerbaijan constantly hinders the efforts of the OSCE to
develop the investigation process, including threatening to suspend
budgets (on this issue) Special Representative of the Chairperson of
the OSCE in conflict which is before the Minsk Group.
In this section, the co-rapporteurs emphasized that “[t] he work of
the ad hoc committee has been difficult from the start … by a lack
of cooperation from the Armenian side. ” It is worth mentioning that
the Armenian delegation attended the first meeting of the ad hoc
committee. The rapporteurs should have consulted the minutes of the
meeting held under the chairmanship of Lord Russell-Johnston. No does
about the lack of participation of the Armenian delegation to the
meetings and nothing is said no more about it in the report submitted
to the Office by Lord Russell-Johnston.
Regarding the reconstruction of the ad hoc committee in 2010, the
Armenian delegation expressed doubts about the true purpose of this in
a letter to the Office January 25, 2010 [the letter is attached as
attention of the co-rapporteurs].
In this section, the co-rapporteurs noted that “[t] he success of
initiatives for resolving this conflict, which has been an obstacle to
development in the country’s internal political, economic,
institutional and social, is crucial to the future democratic progress
of Azerbaijan. ”
It is the lack of progress in building a democratic society where
fundamental rights and freedoms of man are respected, where local
democracy is established, where journalists are not jailed, where
people are not held for their opinions and political positions, which
is an “obstacle to development in the country’s internal political,
economic, institutional and social.” Aliev regime pushes the conflict
to use as an instrument for consolidating and oppression against
movements for social and democratic reform. There are a number of
states with cases where a conflict democratization processes have
nevertheless led (Cyprus, India, Northern Ireland, Israel, etc.).. The
Azerbaijani authorities prétexteront paragraph proposed by the
co-rapporteurs to continue not to fulfill their commitments to the
protection and promotion of human rights, development of democratic
institutions at all levels and promoting rule of law. By adopting such
a position, the co-rapporteurs are supporting the Azerbaijani regime
and its results in terms of human rights.
In this section, the report says: “We have noted, however, that the
credibility of this format [the Minsk Group] was increasingly
Incidentally, they fail to address is that Azerbaijan has always
questioned the effectiveness and credibility of the Minsk Group.
Therefore, this section also reflects the position of the Azerbaijani
authorities, which are used to impose the idea of ??the
ineffectiveness of international mediation efforts, thus justifying
the strong discontent of Azerbaijan. Apart from this state, no country
or organization has never challenged the format of the Minsk Group.
That is why, once again, it is unfortunate that the rapporteurs follow
the same path that the Azerbaijani Government instead of impartiality
and independence of mind.
In this paragraph, one sentence, the co-rapporteurs refer to the ECRI
report on Azerbaijan in 2011 and simply note that it “raised concerns
about freedom of religion.” Surprisingly, nothing is said in this
paragraph concerns and recommendations contained in the reports of
ECRI. The co-rapporteurs forget to report the unprecedented rise of
anti-Armenian sentiment encouraged by the state, which reveals the
ECRI report. As for the “case Safarov,” it shows that xenophobia and
intolerance raise a growing concern in Azerbaijan, which should be
reflected and treated as it should be in the report on that country.
1. Reference to committee: Resolution 1115 (1997).
2. Draft resolution adopted by the committee on 12 December 2012.
3. They led to the adoption by the Assembly the following resolutions:
1305 (2002), 1358 (2004), 1398 (2004), 1456 (2005), 1545 (2007), 1614
(2008) and 1750 (2010) .
4. See Resolutions 1272 (2002), 1359 (2004), 1398 (2004) and 1457 (2005).
5. See Doc. 13079, report on monitoring the issue of political
prisoners in Azerbaijan.
6. See Doc. 12455, Resolution 1787 (2011).
7. See Recommendation 1897 (2010) on respect for media freedom, and Doc. 12 102.
8. See Doc. 12957, Resolution 1891 (2012).
9. See Resolution 1416 (2005) and Recommendation 1690 (2005) on the
Nagorno-Karabakh region dealt with by the Minsk Conference of the
OSCE. See also Resolution 1525 (2006) on the establishment of a
Stability Pact for the South Caucasus. The Commission is currently
preparing a report on “The new parliamentary efforts to create a
Stability Pact for the Caucasus.”
10. See Resolution 1497 (2006) and Recommendation 1877 (2009)
“Europe’s forgotten people: protecting the human rights of IDPs long.”
11. See Doc. 11,769 on the observation of the presidential elections
in Azerbaijan (15 October 2008), Doc. 11865 Part II, Appendix to the
Report of the Bureau on the mission of presence during the
constitutional referendum in Azerbaijan (18 March 2009) and Doc.
12,475 on the observation of parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan (7
12. See Resolutions 1480 (2006) and 1505 (2006).
13. See Opinion No. 390/2006.
14. See Opinion No. 518/2008.
15. See Opinion No. 548/2009.
16. See Opinion No. 559/2009.
17. See Opinion No. 636/2011.
18. See Opinion No. CDL (2012) 066.
19. See document AS / Mon (2011) 07 rev and AS / Mon (2012) 05 rev.
20. Iran demands that the Caspian Sea is divided into five equal
shares among the riparian countries and the challenges of oil
exploration in Azerbaijani waters concerned.
21. See Doc. 11 196.
22. The text of this report is available on the website of the OSCE.
23. See AS / Bur / AdhocNK (2011) 01.
24. Europe Briefing No. 60 International Crisis Group (ICG) (February 2011).
26. See action plan EU / Azerbaijan.
27. See Doc. 12 881.
28. The growth rate was close to 10% per year during the period
2000-2004 it was 26.4% in 2005 (second highest GDP growth the highest
in the world), has surpassed the 36% 2006 (growth rate the highest in
the world) and reached 41.7% in the first quarter of 2007. Growth so
high can not register in time, the rate rose to 11.6% in 2008 and 9.3%
in 2009, 5% in 2010 and 0.1% in 2011.
29. 10% in 2005, 20% in 2007.
30. Oil and Gas Journal, January 2012.
31. AIOC is a consortium of 10 oil companies that have signed
extraction contracts with Azerbaijan and is led by BP and Chevron
includes Statoil, Turkiye Petrolleri, ExxonMobil and SOCAR.
32. See IMF Country Report No. 12/6, January 2012.
34. See Doc. 11 769.
35. See Doc. 12 475.
36. See Opinion No. 518/2008 on the draft amendments to the
Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan adopted by the Venice
Commission at its 78th plenary session, CDL-AD (2009) 10.
37. See press release 161 (2009) of 2 March 2009, published by the
Congress (“Congress Bureau calls for postponement of the referendum in
Azerbaijan”) and press 218 (2009) of 16 March 2009 (“Ian Micallef puts
the Azerbaijan cautioned against weakening the Constitution “).
38. The Venice Commission concluded that “[s] ome amendments are
undeniably significant improvements over the current Constitution and
should be welcomed. At the same time, there need to worry some very
negative developments in terms of democratic practice, given the
situation in Azerbaijan. This is essentially the case for the repeal
of the limit of two presidential term, which reinforces the already
considerable head of state and does not follow the European practice.
39. See Document CPL (18) 2.
40. See the reports of the Assembly observation missions in
Azerbaijan: Doc. 10003 of 27 November 2003 (2003 presidential
election), Doc. 10751 of 29 November 2005 (election of 2005), Doc.
10941 of 13 May 2006 (partial repeat parliamentary elections of 2005),
Doc. 11,769 (2008 presidential election), and Doc. 12,475 (2010
41. See Doc. 10 807.
42. Kerimova c. Azerbaijan (30 September 2010); Namat Aliyev c.
Azerbaijan (8 April 2010); Seyidzade c. Azerbaijani n (8 April 2010);
Kerimli c. Azerbaijan (10 January 2012); Hajili c. Azerbaijan (10
January 2012); Alibeyli c. Azerbaijan (10 January 2012), Jalaloglu c.
Azerbaijan (10 January 2012).
43. See Doc. 11 769.
44. Joint opinion of the Venice Commission and OSCE / ODIHR on the
draft amendments to the Electoral Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan,
CDL-AD (2008) 11/Avis No 390/2006.
45. Standards of transparency in political party funding are contained
in Recommendation Rec (2003) 4 of the Committee of Ministers on common
rules against corruption in the funding of political parties and
46. See Opinion No. 631/2011.
47. In their comments on this report, the Azerbaijani authorities have
informed us that under the Presidential Decree of 8 May 2012 on
measures to ensure the application of the law of April 20, 2012, a
party may be dissolved by decision justice on the basis of an
application filed by the Department of Justice.
48. CDL-INF (2001) 26.
49. Document CG (23) 12. See also Resolution 345 (2012) and
Recommendation 326 (2012) of the Congress.
50. See Opinion No. 518/2008.
51. See footnote on page # 16.
52. See Opinion No. 390/2006.
53. See footnote on page 49.
54. View congressional report on the observation of elections, CPL (18) 2.
55. In their comments, the authorities call our attention to the
evaluation of the selection process of judges conducted by the
European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ), which
concluded that “the model defined by the Azerbaijani authorities to
selection new judges can be seen as an interesting example of good
practice in that it has the characteristics of an effective and
independent judiciary and shows the way to the establishment of such a
system “(see document CEPEJ- COP (2011) 1).
56. The financial resources of the state budget devoted to
administration of justice tripled between 2006 and 2008, from 10
million to more than 30 million euros.
57. Authorities indicated in their comments that this procedure is
consistent with the provisions contained in the Recommendation CM /
Rec (2010) 12 of the Committee of Ministers on judges: independence,
efficiency and responsibilities.
58. See footnote on page No. 55.
61. Azerbaijan Trial Monitoring Report 2010, the OSCE Office in Baku,
available on the website of the OSCE.
62. See Amnesty International report on freedoms in Azerbaijan
published in November 2011.
63. For example, Mr. Elchin Namazov famous lawyer who defended the
participants in the events of April 2011, was removed from the Bar in
September 2011 court decision.
64. Human Rights House Foundation, “Serious Concerns about human
rights Abuses in the Republic of Azerbaijan”, June 2012.
65. The authorities have informed us that the amendments to the
Criminal Code to address these problems have been introduced since the
last report to GRECO.
66. In their comments, the authorities informed us that the draft law
on the prevention of conflicts of interest in the activities of public
officials is being developed.
67. View network anti-corruption OECD Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Monitoring Report, March 2010.
68. In their comments, the authorities have informed us that
Azerbaijan had withdrawn all its reserves by Parliament’s decision of
1 October 2012.
69. In their comments, the authorities have informed us of progress in
the implementation of the system of electronic public services, which,
according to them, should contribute significantly to the fight
70. Report on Azerbaijan to Human Rights Watch, October 2010.
71. Human Rights House Foundation, briefing to the Parliamentary
Assembly, June 2012.
72. See, for example, business Garayev c. Azerbaijan, judgment of 10
June 2010, or Muradova c. Azerbaijan, judgment of 2 April 2009.
73. The authorities stressed that the judgment relates events dating
back to 2004. Since then, considerable progress has been made in the
treatment of tuberculosis in places of detention and prisons.
74. Report on Azerbaijan Human Rights Watch, October 2010.
75. See footnote on page 58.
77. See / fom.
78. See Resolution on the situation of human rights in Azerbaijan
adopted by the European Parliament on 24 May 2012, 2012/2654 (RSP).
79. Human Rights Watch report on Azerbaijan, “Beaten, blacklisted and
behind the bars, The vanishing space for freedom of expression in
80. See cases Fatullayev c. Azerbaijan and Mahmudov and Agazade c. Azerbaijan.
81. In their comments, the authorities indicate that the warning was
due to non-submission to the Ministry of Justice since 2006, the
organization of information on the election of the President, as
required by law.
82. Amnesty International Report, November 2011.
84. See CommDH (2010) 21.
85. Human Rights House Foundation, Information Note to the
Parliamentary Assembly, June 2012, see also the website of Amnesty
86. Human Rights Watch report on Azerbaijan, 2010.
87. In their comments, the authorities claim that the event which was
held in Guba was not peaceful, protesters reportedly set fire to a
house, damaged public and private property, and injuring several
88. See Stankov and the United Macedonian Organisation Ilinden v..
Bulgaria, judgment of 2 October 2001.
89. The European Court of Human Rights stated Azerbaijan guilty of
violations of Article 11 (freedom of association) several times,
including in the following cases: Ramazanova et al. Azerbaijan (2007);
Ismayilov c. Azerbaijan (2008); Nasibova c. Azerbaijan (2007); Aliyev
et al. Azerbaijan (2008) and Tebieti Mühavize Israfilov and c.
90. Report on the state of the non-governmental sector in Azerbaijan
Human Rights House Foundation, Baku, 2011.
91. Article 29 (4) of the Constitution provides for the possibility of
expropriation for the sake of the State and only after a government
decision. Such a decision has not been made public.
92. Article 29 (4) of the Constitution.
93. See the website of Human Rights House.
95. The reports are available on the website of the Commissioner.
96. Pursuant to Rule 49.4 of the Rules of Procedure (“In addition, the
report of a commission has an explanatory memorandum by the
rapporteur. The commission notes. Dissenting opinions that have arisen
in Committee are included at the request of their authors, preferably
in the body of the explanatory memorandum attached or otherwise in a
footnote on page “).
97. See Doc. 11196 [referred to by the co-rapporteurs].
Monday, December 31, 2012,
Stéphane © armenews.com
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress