PACE adopted two resolutions on human rights in Azerbaijan

Baku/11.10.17/Turan: The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) at today's plenary meeting of the autumn session discussed the report: "The functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan." The document was prepared by the co-rapporteurs of the PACE Monitoring Committee Stefan Schennac (Austria) and Cesar Florin Preda (Romania). Together with the report, a draft resolution was also submitted. The report expressed concern about the imbalance between the branches of power.

In particular, it is noted that recent constitutional changes may lead to the fact that the executive branch will be less accountable to the parliament and the judiciary will remain dependent on the executive power. At the same time, the report positively assesses the presidential decree on improving the functioning of the prison system and the humanization of criminal policy. The authors of the document expressed concern over persecution and constant detentions of NGO leaders, human rights activists, political activists, journalists, bloggers and lawyers.

They called on the authorities to release those detainees whose detention is reasonably doubtful. Concerns were also expressed about the restrictive climate for the activities of the extra-parliamentary opposition and restrictions on freedom of assembly.

The report expresses recommendations to the authorities: to ensure the full implementation of the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights; strengthen parliamentary control of the executive; carry out reforms of the judicial system and the prosecutor's office to ensure the complete independence of the judiciary from the executive; allow journalists to work freely without any pressure on them; create an environment conducive to the activities of NGOs, including those that express critical opinions.

During the discussions, Azerbaijani MPs criticized the report and demanded to change the provisions that criticized the lack of independence of prosecutorial and judicial bodies, as well as suppression of mass demonstrations.

Deputy Sahiba Gafarova was outraged that the report says that the president oversees the prosecutor's office. According to her, the Constitution says that the prosecutor's office is an independent body and the executive does not control it. However, the amendment proposed by the Azerbaijani side was not adopted.

In general, almost none of the amendments to the document was adopted. The resolution was adopted by 117 votes "for" with 18 "against". Then the report was discussed at the session: "Steps taken in Azerbaijan in the field of respect for human rights during the country's chairmanship of the Council of Europe (May-November 2014).

This report was prepared by the Belgian deputy Allen Desteks. However, in September, after a scandalous investigation: "Azerbaijan Landmath", where it was a question of lobbying in PACE in favor of official Baku, Destek in connection with the mention of his name, resigned. Therefore, the report was presented by the Ukrainian deputy Elena Sotnik.

In the report, the final version included an amendment to "politically motivated" arrests in Azerbaijan. The head of the Azerbaijani delegation, Samad Seyidov, resolutely opposed this. "We are doing everything we can to conduct a dialogue, but in this situation you are fanning the situation," the parliamentarian complained. In his opinion, reforms are carried out in Azerbaijan for years, and the report says that "there are no reforms".

The Azerbaijani delegation also protested against the report on the imprisonment of the opposition politician Ilgar Mammadov, alleging that he was arrested for "specific crimes". Deputy Vusal Huseynova said that the preservation of this part of the report will deprive the report of objectivity. However, the document was adopted by 114 votes "for" with 14 "against". -06D--

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