Açiq mənbələrdən foto.

Açiq mənbələrdən foto.

Baku/14.03.23/Turan: The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe and the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) have issued a joint opinion on Azerbaijan's new "Law On Political Parties".

As noted in the document, the new Law provides for "a number of new problematic provisions that may have a chilling effect on pluralism in the country". The most serious of these are as follows:
* increase in the minimum number of party members from 1,000 to 5,000;
* need to re-register already registered political parties;
* lengthy and cumbersome procedure for the establishment and registration of political parties;
* ban on political party activities without state registration;
* over-regulation of internal party structures;
* excessive control of the Ministry of Justice over party activities and membership lists of political parties;
* possibility to suspend the activity of a political party or even dissolve the party for actions that do not involve serious violations of legal acts.

The above-mentioned rules cause serious concerns regarding the exercise of the right to freedom of association, which is guaranteed both by international human rights treaties and the national constitution.

The Venice Commission and ODIHR remind that the right to freedom of association and freedom of expression are fundamental to the functioning of a democratic society.

Political parties, as collective instruments of political expression, should be able to fully enjoy such rights. This means that registration requirements must be reasonable.

State control over political parties must be limited. Therefore, extensive state control over the internal functioning of a political party, including the requirement to provide the state with lists of its members, is an excessive measure incompatible with the principles of necessity.

Suspension and dissolution of political parties can only be applied in cases of the most serious violations of the regulations and in extreme cases.

The VC and ODIHR suggest that the authorities address these shortcomings. Measures are proposed to facilitate the creation and registration of political parties, including through a return to the original number of members required for state registration (1,000 members).

It is proposed to remove the obligation for political parties to provide the state authorities with lists of its members for verification. If this obligation is retained, it should be done by an independent body and not the Ministry of Justice.

The Ministry of Justice may not require political parties to submit the entire list of members, but only the minimum number of members required for registration. This also needs to be clarified in the Law that the list of members is an internal party document and is not subject to public disclosure.

It is also suggested to revise the formula for allocation of public funding by giving higher priority to the number of votes received by a political party in elections instead of seats in Parliament.

It is also recommended to make public the names of only those donors whose donations have exceeded certain norms.

A revision of the political party control mechanism is proposed, with an independent body to take over this function.

*The new Law On Political Parties in Azerbaijan was adopted late last year and signed by the President on 11 January 2023, causing fierce criticism from opposition parties. -06В-

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