Baku called to register Human Rights House Azerbaijan

Human Rights House Foundation urged Baku to fulfill the obligations of the Fund and register the unit in Azerbaijan.

Human Rights House Azerbaijan was ordered to seize all activities in Azerbaijan until an agreement with the authorities was adopted. Three years after, the Human Rights House Azerbaijan is still closed.

- Azerbaijani authorities use their legislation to limit the freedom of association, and hence disrespecting a fundamental right that all member states of the United Nations and Council of Europe have committed themselves to, says Maria Dahle, executive director of the Human Rights House Foundation.

The Human Rights House Azerbaijan was registered as an international branch of the Human Rights House Foundation in 2007 . Consequently the registration was in compliance with the Azerbaijan legislation at the time of the registration. The Human Rights House Azerbaijan has reported timely and received no prior warnings or notifications of it being in breach of any provisions of Azerbaijani law or regulations at any time prior to the notification of 10 March 2011 . The authorities used new amendments to the NGO law in 2009 as an excuse to close down the House in 2011 .

The Venice Commission stated in October 2011 that the amendments to the Azerbaijani NGO Law and the March 2011 decree, setting new requirements for foreign NGOs, overturn the efforts to meet international standards. According to the Venice Commission the requirement for the bilateral agreement between a foreign NGO and the national authorities is in itself questionable and the conditions set are rather problematic and unclear.

The Commissioner for Human Rights of Council of Europe noted in his report of 6th August 2013 that further new amendments to the law on NGOs have been adopted, which further restrict the operations of NGOs in Azerbaijan. "Of equal concern is the political discourse which often accompanies the adoption of restrictive legislation. The authorities are called on to ensure full respect of the right to freedom of association, in particular by alleviating the registration requirements and making the whole process, as well as the functioning of NGOs, less bureaucratic. " underlined the Commissioner.

The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in March 2013 stating that all legal provisions affecting human rights defenders should be clearly defined, determinable and non-retroactive, and any limitation must be lawful, proportionate, non-discriminatory and necessary in a democratic society.

- We call upon the Azerbaijani authorities to allow the Human Rights House Azerbaijan to re-open before the country takes over the chairmanship of the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe in May 2014 , says Maria Dahle.  --0--

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