Parliament passes amendments to toughen penalties for organizers and participants of unsanctioned rallies, demonstrations, street processions and pickets

May 15th, 2013

In its May 14th plenary meeting the Azerbaijani Parliament made an amendment to Article 298 of the Administrative Violations Code which seeks extension of the period of administrative detention for violation of the rules of organizing and conducting rallies, demonstrations, street processions and pickets.

Under the adopted amendments, for violation of the above-mentioned rules prescribed by law in the capacity of organizers, individuals shall be sentenced to a fine of 1,500-3,000 AZN, or depending on the circumstances of the case or taking into account the identity of the offender, to community service for 200-240 hours or administrative arrest for 2 months (it previously was 15 days). For similar charges, officials shall be fined 3,000-6,000 AZN and legal entities 15,000-30,000 AZN.

And for participation in gatherings, rallies, demonstrations, street processions and pickets not organized in the manner prescribed by law, individuals shall be sentenced to a fine of 300-600 AZN, or depending on the circumstances of the case or taking into account the identity of the offender, to community service for 160-200 hours, or administrative arrest for 2 months (it previously was 15 days).

“It is an illegal barrier against the freedom of assembly. Such amendments are in contradiction with the government’s obligations and commitments to respect and protect human rights and freedoms” commented lawyer Annagi Hajibeyli.

Human rights defender Rasul Jafarov condemned the extension of administrative arrest and considered it to be contrary to the principles of human rights. Jafarov believes that toughening of the administrative punishment seeks to help the authorities to intensify crackdown on the dissent.

“In the past 3-4 months the government has significantly stiffened the regulations to chill the active youths” said youth activist Ulvi Hasanli.