January 30th, 2009
The Parliament Assembly of Council of Europe (PACE) Monitoring Committee has discussed the issues related to Azerbaijan.

According to “Radio Liberty”, Monitoring Committee Chairman Co-rapporteur Andreas Herkel gave information about how Azerbaijan’s Parliament and Constitution Court adopted the decision regarding plans to conduct a referendum in March. The co-rapporteur noted that Venice Commission has not been informed about the referendum decision of the government. During the meeting conducted on 29 January, the Monitoring Committee adopted a decision to appeal to Venice Commission to conduct assessments in connection with the referendum.
“We want to know about the final decision and position of the Venetian Commission,” said Andreas Herkel. “This is not a regular referendum. Lots of questions are being asked; this is not always a case. And this puts the voter in a difficult situation. We want to know the opinion of Venetian Commission on articles ‘authority period of the president’ and ‘ban against taking the picture of a person without their permission’. This a disputable issue with regards to freedom of speech.”
On 18 March, a referendum will be conducted in Azerbaijan. Within the framework of the referendum, changes have been proposed to more than 20 articles of the Republic of Azerbaijan's Constitution. Some of the changes proposed could severely limit freedom of information and the press.