FREEDOM HOUSE CALLS FOR REJECTION OF NGO AMENDMENTS

June 17th, 2009
The international organization Freedom House has released a statement calling for Azerbaijan’s government to reject the proposed amendments to the law on non-governmental organizations

According to the statement: “Despite constitutional guarantees of freedom of association, the draft law would require all non-governmental organizations operating in Azerbaijan to register with the state and introduce fines for anyone speaking or acting on behalf of an unregistered group. In addition, the draft law expands the grounds on which the government could refuse to register an NGO.”
 
 "Freedom House is dismayed by the declining state of freedom and consolidation of power we've witnessed in Azerbaijan over the last few years," said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House executive director.  "This new draft NGO law threatens to further marginalize the existing institutions of democratic accountability in Azerbaijan."

 "It is symptomatic of the Azerbaijani government’s approach that it failed to consult with civil society groups before drafting this legislation, which parliament should reject in its current form," said Jeff Goldstein, Freedom House senior program manager for Central Asia and the Caucasus. "We strongly urge the government to openly consult with Azerbaijani civil society groups to prepare a draft that will enable rather than restrict their ability to contribute to the country's development and democratization."