The Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS) assesses the sudden and unwarranted initiation of an inspection by the Justice Ministry of IRFS as the beginning of a new campaign of pressure against IRFS.
Yesterday, October 29, employees from the Justice Ministry’s Registration and Notary Head Office called IRFS’s office at 12:30 said they were coming at 3 p.m. to conduct an inspection. In response, IRFS employees informed the Justice Ministry staff member that IRFS Chairman Emin Huseynov was in Romania participating in an NGO forum, and would only be able to answer their questions on 1 November, upon his return. Despite this, Justice Ministry employees Sabina Sulmanova Gedir gizi and Gunel Hemidli Bekhiyar gizi came to IRFS yesterday to conduct an inspection. Beginning the inspection, they presented a letter addressed to E. Huseynov and signed by Justice Ministry Registration and Notary Head Office Deputy Chief Mehman Soltanov stating the purpose of the inspection was “to determine if IRFS’s activities comport with legislation and the organization’s charter.”
During the inspection the Justice Ministry employees were in IRFS’s office for one hour and asked IRFS employees many questions. Their interest was focused on information about the organization’s founders, members, grants, and its legal and real address.
IRFS believes that the initiation of these types of unwarranted inspections is an obvious display of the Azeri government’s intolerance towards independent NGOs.
IRFS declares that these types of activities by the Justice Ministry are a violation of Freedom of Association and Assembly envisaged in Article 58 of the Azerbaijan Republic Constitution and Article 11 European Convention on Human Rights.
Only a short time ago the well-known Election Monitoring Center was closed and NGO legislation was amended to make it more restrictive. The re-registration of the EMC has been deliberately delayed by the Justice Ministry.
IRFS appeals to international organizations to call on Azerbaijan’s government to put an end to these types of repressive actions. In addition, IRFS appeals to Azerbaijan’s government to display tolerance toward independent NGOs.