Azerbaijani NGOs protest against tougher administrative law

A group of Azerbaijani non-governmental organizations issued a statement on recent plans of the government of the country to toughen punishment for several administrative offences.

We, the representatives of Azerbaijani civil society, severely condemn recently proposed legislative amendment which seeks extension of administrative detention period for certain group of administrative wrongdoings, and if adopted we will regard this as another attempt to restrict human rights in Azerbaijan.

As such, based on his right of legislative initiative, Prosecutor General Zakir Garalov submitted a bill to the Parliament aiming to amend certain clauses of the Code of Administrative Offences. The bill proposes tougher punishments for offenses described in the Article 298.11 and 298.22 (violation of the rules of organizing and conducting rallies, demonstrations, processions, etc) of the Administrative Offences Code, particularly extending the maximum period of administrative detention from 15 to 60 days. Similarly, maximum period of administrative detention for offences referred to in Article 3103 of the Code (wilful failure to obey legal lawful orders of a police or a military officer) is proposed to be increased from 15 to 30 days.

Given that democratic states do not use the measure of detention in cases of administrative offence, Azerbaijani government’s intention to extend existing period of administrative detention is aimed at creating a chilling effect on activists and suppressing the dissent ahead of the upcoming presidential election. There are no legal grounds or social need for such a bill. Toughening the penalties solely serve the purpose of creating an atmosphere of fear and limiting the social and political activity.

The proposed amendments, once adopted, will deal another serious blow to Azerbaijan’s poor international image. In its 30 April 2013 session, UN Human Rights Council made more than 160 recommendations to Azerbaijani government, as a result of its review of Azerbaijan’s human rights record. In January 2013, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution critical of the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. Freedom House, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights House Foundation and other prestigious international organizations have regularly stated in their reports that Azerbaijani authorities suppress human rights.

And in this case, the proposal of reactionary bill aiming to further restrict human rights, particularly political rights and freedoms, instead of improving the situation, is an indicator of government’s self-disrespect and also disrespect to its human rights commitments.

We urge the government to withdraw the proposed amendments and refrain from similar initiatives in the future. We also call on the international community to show a reaction to the reactionary amendments adopted in the past few months and to demand that Azerbaijani government respects its commitments.

 

Undersigned:

Rasul Jafarov, Human Rights Club

Anar Mammadli, Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center

Leyla Yunus, Institute of Peace and Democracy

Leyla Aliyeva, Center for National and International Studies

Samir Kazimli, Alliance for Defense of Political Freedoms

Rovshan Hajiyev, Democratic Journalism School

Emin Huseynov, Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety

Intigam Aliyev, Legal Education Society

Mirvari Gahramanli, Committee for Protection of Oilmen’s Rights

Ziya Guliyev, Center for Legal Initiatives

Ulvi Hasanli, Free Youth Organization

Mehman Aliyev, Turan Information Agency

Ilgar Ibrahimoglu, Center for the Protection of Freedom of Conscience and Religion

Rashid Hajili, Media Rights Institute

Mireli Huseynov, Democracy Learning Public Union

Hafiz Hasanov, Law and Development Public Union

Fuad Hasanov, Democracy Monitor

Irade Javadova, Education on Human Rights Public Association

Azer Mehtiyev, Center to Support to Economic Initiatives

Zohrab Ismayil, Public Association for Assistance to Free Economy

Annagi Hajibayli, Azerbaijan Lawyers Association

Jasur Sumarinli, Doctrine Center of Military Studies

 

For more information, please contact

Rasul Jafarov, Human Rights Club Chairman

E-mail: humanrightsclub.az@gmail.com; resul.j@gmail.com

Phone: +994 50 586 35 37

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