New Jersey Might Become First American State Imposing Sanctions On Azerbaijan Over Gubad Ibadoghlu
As the U.S. federal and legislative branches struggle to speak with one voice and to move from reaction to action against Azerbaijan's worsening human rights clampdown, a key legislator in the New Jersey Senate recently decided to take the initiative by putting his support behind an ex-state resident and renowned scholar, Gubad Ibadoghlu, and by introducing a bill prohibiting government dealings with certain businesses associated with Azerbaijan.
The bill S4107, issued by Democrat Senator Andrew Zwicker, has already been placed on the calendar of NJ Senate ommittee called "State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation," TURAN's Washington correspondent reports.
The authors make it clear that the State of NJ is 'deeply concerned' about the welfare and rights of Dr. Gubad Ibadoghlu, who is being detained in Azerbaijan.
"Mr Ibadoghlu is an esteemed economist who has promoted good governance and public financial transparency. He has shared his expertise all over the world and has been affiliated with various institutions of higher education in Europe and the United States, including Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey and Princeton University. In addition to his scholarly work, Dr. Ibadoghlu is a prominent political activist who has been critical of the Azerbaijani government. "
Azerbaijani authorities arrested Ibadoghlu in July 2023 on charges of production, acquisition, or sale of counterfeit money. The authors emphasize that Ibadoghlu’s arrest "continues a long standing trend of pursuing dubious charges against government critics in Azerbaijan, a trend that runs counter to the democratic principle of free speech."
"Given that New Jersey law prohibits government dealings with businesses associated with other countries that have records of human rights offenses, it is in the public interest to adopt a similar policy with respect to Azerbaijan," reads the bill.
If passed, the bill prohibits various government dealings with businesses associated with Azerbaijan.
Specifically, a person that engages in prohibited activities in Azerbaijan will be placed on a list by the Treasury Department and will not be permitted to:
— contract with State agencies
— file or renew a Public Works Contractor Registration
— receive an economic development subsidy from the Economic Development Authority
— be awarded a municipal property tax abatement, or make or enter into a payment in-lieu of property tax agreement
— apply for or receive a tax clearance certificate from the Division of Taxation
— be certified as an urban renewal entity for purposes of the "Long Term Tax Exemption Law"
or be designated as a redeveloper by a public agency for the purposes of the "Local Redevelopment and Housing Law."
In addition, the bill prohibits the State from investing pension or annuity funds in companies with an equity tie to the Azerbaijani government. It also prohibits the State and its subdivisions from banking with, having or holding stock, debt, or other equity investments of, or maintaining insurance coverage through a policy issued by a financial institution that has an equity tie to the Azerbaijani government.
New Jersey's most populous city Newark has long been a sister city of Azerbaijan's second city of Ganja.