Leo Platvoet

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Azerbaijan: good and bad

Honouring of obligations and commitments 

19th of April 2007


As usual the monitoring report on Azerbaijan contains good news and bad news. In this way it is a balanced report. But that does not mean that the good and the bad things are equal divided. Yes, there seems to be a good cooperation with the Venice-commission to improve the election code, to balance the composition of the Central Election Commission, to get a better procedure foor election related complaints and appeals. But this should also be settled almost a year ago, after the resolution was adopted in the debate of challenging the credentials of the Azeri-delegation after the bad elections of November 2005.

Yes, there is an economic growth of around 30%, but 25% of the population lives in property, and the growth of the economy does not lead to a growth of social welfare but to a growth of corruption.

Yes, there was a presidential pardon decree: 10 political prisonners were released. But the bad thing of course is that Azerbaijan - a memberstate of the Council of Europe - is a country where people can be arrested because of their political conviction; and some of them are still in prison.

Yes, the licence to broadcast was given back to the independant TV-channel after numerous protests. But the bad thing is of course that it was possible in a member state of the Council of Europe that for unknown reasons this license was dropped. But also the opposition newspaper Azadliq was kicked out of their premises by police-forces. As the well-documented report of Mr Herkel en mr Lloyd points out: there were many violent incidents against journalists and jourmalistst were imprisonned.

Freedom of assembly is frustrated by the authorities. The situation in the prisons is very bad. The government refuses to give permission for the publication of the CPT-reports of 2004 and 2005. This is not acceptable. What's the role of the parliament of Azerbaijan in this matter? Has he demanded to the governemnt to do so and implement the recommendations?

It is often said in this venue: you can't expect of a country which is on his way to democracy for 15 years now, to reach this goal in such a short period where other countries took a 150 years or even more. This is an argument for slowly changing structures. But it can never be an argument for state-violence against journalists and demonstraters. For arresting and deportating people because of their religion.

Azerbaijan has a frustrated history with the loss of Nagaorno Karabakh. I understand this very well and regrets that the international resolutions, such as these of the United Nations, are not implemented. The almost 5000 missing persons from Azerbaijan, due to this conflict of Nagorno Karabakh are a deep scarf in the society. The rapporteurs pay some attention to this problem. I'll ask them to implement this issue, which has everything to do with Human Rights, in the monitoring-procedure after my report on Missing Persons in the South Caucasus is adopted. `