Today, 12 June, the “Civil Society Defense Committee” conducted press conference in Azerbaijan Media Center. Opening conference, “Civil Society Defense Committee Working Group member Gubad Ibadoglu announced that the purpose of the press conference is publicize the problem facing Azeri NGOs with the help of media and inform the press about the position of civil society regarding the proposed changes to the Azerbaijan Republic’s Law on Non-governmental Organizations.
“The changes on law in question will cause to death of civil society because of the limitations they place on NGOs' activities in Azerbaijan,” said Qubad Ibadoglu.
Later giving information about the proposed changes to the Azerbaijan Republic law on non-governmental organizations, Working Group member, lawyer Hafiz Hasanov said, “The proposed changes are reactionary. […] Adoption of this bill paves the way for the elimination of civil society.” He added, “If these changes are adopted, NGOs either will be dependent on the government or will be closed, and the entire purpose of an NGO will be lost.” According to Hasanov, the changes contradict Azerbaijan’s Constitution and with international laws and agreements that the country is party to.
“The law should not be retroactive, but it is shown that changes (if accepted) will be applied to NGOs that have already been in existence for a long time.
Working Group's member Ilgar Mammadov said that appeals regarding on this issue will be sent to Azerbaijan’s government and international organizations. "We have no intention to discuss one-by-one the proposed changes. In the event that these actually put up for discussion on 19 June, a protest will be held in front of Milli Mejlis during discussions conducted on the 19 June and appeals will be addressed to Council of Europe to eliminate Azerbaijan’s mandate.
Working Group's member Emin Huseynov and others also expressed their concerns and anxieties on changes and additions to the Azerbaijan Republic law on non-governmental organizations and as well as Azerbaijan Republic law on mass media.
The Civil Society Defense Committee was founded by the directors of approximately 50 NGOs to publicize concerns related to the proposed changes to the Azerbaijan Republic law on non-governmental organizations, which will consider by the Milli Mejlis (parliament) in an extraordinary session of Milli Mejlis that is scheduled to take place on 19 June. At present, over 100 NGOs have joined the committee.