EU Concerned about Human Rights Situation in Azerbaijan

Baku / 15.05.19 / Turan: On May 14, the European Union published the annual report "On the state of affairs with democracy and human rights in the world".

In the part of the document concerning Azerbaijan, it is noted that the situation in the country is still cause for concern.

"Restrictions on fundamental freedoms of assembly, speech and association continue, and the authorities are persecuting opponents. The already narrowed environment for the activities of civil society has become even more difficult after restrictions in legislation, including a ban on foreign funding," the report says.

The paper also draws attention to arbitrary arrests. "Without a court decision, the sites of well-known media were blocked, and on the basis of administrative instructions, reporters were detained.

The ban on access to legal proceedings by lawyers who are not members of the Bar association seriously impedes access to fair justice. The Bar association deprived the licenses of a number of lawyers specializing in and actively involved in the protection of human rights," the document says.

The cooperation between the EU and Azerbaijan recently, especially after the signing of the Partnership Priorities in September 2018, has been intensified and this will contribute to the expansion of cooperation in the coming years. These priorities will ensure financial cooperation until 2020 through a political framework.

"Negotiations are continuing between the European Union and Azerbaijan around a new partnership agreement. The agreement is based on democratic principles, the rule of law, respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms," the document says.

The Baku Office of the EU for urgent discussion of human rights issues established working contacts with the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, made a number of appeals of a humanitarian nature.

"In close cooperation with the Member States (EU), the EU representative office examines such issues as political prisoners, administrative detention of opposition activists, meets with lawyers and relatives, representatives of civil society, as well as government agencies. A number of meetings were held in the Ombudsman"s office to discuss the situation with human rights," the document says.

European Union assistance to Azerbaijan covers the seven-year program (2014-2020) and is programmed to the amount of 139 million euros and 169 million euros.

The € 15 million envisaged for 2019 will be directed to 4 priority areas of the Eastern Partnership, including support for civil society. It is also recalled that Azerbaijan has obligations, as a member of the Council of Europe, to adapt the rules of the European Court of Human Rights.

In addition, the European Union supports Azerbaijan through joint programs with the Council of Europe. According to the Plan of Action adopted in October 2018, the Council of Europe and the relevant structures of Azerbaijan agreed to implement programs to improve the efficiency of judicial and prosecutorial bodies of Azerbaijan, increase accountability and transparency, expand the use of European human rights standards, reform the penitentiary system, and strengthen the fight against corruption and money laundering. -06D--

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