The Chairman of the Board of the international organization Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) Fredrik Reinfeldt arrived in Azerbaijan.
On the eve of the visit, members of the Azerbaijani NGO Coalition to increase transparency in the extractive industries directed him an appeal in order to attract attention to the problems of civil society in the country.
They regret that after the meeting of the Board in October 2016 in Astana no decisive legal or practical steps were taken to address the problems of civil society.
The Cabinet of Ministers on January 11 adopted the "Rules of registration of grant agreements (decisions)", and on January 24 it revised the "Rules of the acquisition of the right to provide grants to foreign donors on the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan".
However, according to the Constitution of Azerbaijan, the President’s decrees and resolutions of the Cabinet of Ministers do not have any legal superiority over laws of the country. Therefore, without the removal of restrictive measures in the law "On Grants" we cannot talk about changing the legal or practical position of NGOs.
On the other hand, the Cabinet decision does not alter the terms of implementation of the three demands put forward at a meeting of the EITI Board in Astana on October 26, 2016.
So, there are still procedures for registration of grants and donors.
Therefore, there is a need to address the standards in the legislation limiting the activities of NGOs. This necessitates reforms in the legal and regulatory spheres in the coming period.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Justice refuses to issue a notice of registration of grant projects of many independent NGOs, including the members of the coalition, which is why their performance is impossible.
At the same time access to foreign donors remains limited.
It is practically impossible for the Coalition and its independent members to obtain financial assistance from international donors, and NGOs cannot participate in grant competitions.
The State NGO Support Council even refused to fund the institutional grant project for the NGO Coalition for EITI, it had announced.
And after that the Council refused to adopt the Coalition’s project for grant competition in 2017.
Currently, the Coalition has no budget, office, office equipment, or meeting rooms for events.
The head of the Multilateral Group, Chairman of the government commission on EITI Shahmar Movsumov refuses of meetings or collaboration with members of the coalition.
Over 30 independent NGOs, which are members of the coalition, still have not received state registration.
The Ministry of Justice denies registration of NGOs. There are members of the coalition, against whom there are criminal proceedings, and who are not issued passports, and for whom there is a ban on leaving the country.
The former member of the coalition Fuad Gahramanli was sentenced to 10 years of prison for posting on Facebook. Because of the unjustified prosecution Amnesty International found him a "prisoner of conscience".
Another former member of the coalition, second group invalid Asif Yusifli has been also unreasonably imprisoned for more than two years.
Finally, members of the Coalition have expressed interest in participating in the EITI process. However, without a solution to these problems there cannot be free or effective participation in EITI.
They call Reinfeldt during the meetings in Baku to raise the problems of civil society, including members of the Coalition of NGOs, and express a principled stand and will. -06D--