HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH ISSUES LETTER TO PRESIDENT EXPRESSING CONCERN ABOUT PROPOSED CHANGES TO NGO LAW

June 17th, 2009
The internationally renowned human rights organization Human Rights Watch has addressed a letter to Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev expressing concern about the proposed changes to Azerbaijan’s law on Non-governmental Organizations and Foundations.

In the letter, which is signed by Human Rights Watch Executive Director Holly Carter, it is written, “The draft in its current form violates Azerbaijan’s human rights obligations on freedom of association and if adopted would represent a significant setback in Azerbaijan’s democratization process. We urge you to take immediate steps to suspend parliament’s consideration of the current draft and to ensure that any new amendments to legislation regulating NGO activities are in conformity with Azerbaijan’s international human rights obligations on freedom of association.”

According to Human Rights Watch the proposed changes to Azerbaijan’s NGO law violate the European Convention on Human Rights, International Convent on Civil and Political Rights and obligations that Azerbaijan has undertaken before international organizations like the Council of Europe. “The amendments also run counter to the Recommendation of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers to Member States on the Legal Status of Non-governmental organizations in Europe and the Fundamental Principles on the Status of Non-governmental Organizations in Europe,” Human Rights Watch writes in their letter.
 
In conclusion, Human Rights Watch writes, “We urge you to take immediate and appropriate steps to reject any arbitrary limitations on the work of independent civil society groups and instead empower NGOs to enhance the prominent and constructive role they have played in Azerbaijan’s public life.”