SOUTH CAUCASUS HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS NETWORK RELEASES STATEMENT AGAINST PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO NGO LAW

June 22nd, 2009
The South Caucasus Human Rights Defenders Network, a network of 30 well established impartial and independent non-governmental organizations from the region of South Caucasus, aiming at supporting the human rights defenders in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, has released a statement expressing alarm about the packet of proposed amendments to the Azerbaijan Republic laws “On Non-governmental Organizations,” “On Mass Media,” “On State Fees” and “On Donors,” as well as the Administrative Code. 

According to the statement, “The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders is alarmed about the draft amendments to the Law of Republic of Azerbaijan “On Non-governmental organizations (public associations and foundations)” that are due to be discussed on 19 June by the Parliament of Azerbaijan. Should these amendments be adopted as they stand, they would severely curtail freedom of association in contradiction with the Constitution of Azerbaijan, international obligations undertaken by the country, in particular obligations steaming from the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the commitments under European Union Eastern Partnership, Council of Europe and OSCE.”
 
The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders calls upon the authorities of

Azerbaijan to:

• Promptly establish a dialogue with international and national actors affected by the draft amendments and for further liberalization of the existing NGO legislation and bringing it in line the international obligations Azerbaijan has agreed to abide by.

• Postpone consideration of the amendments to the law until the expertise from international organizations, including the Venice Commission is obtained.
 

The South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders calls upon international community to:

• Put pressure on the Azerbaijani authorities not to pass the proposed amendments to the Law of Republic of Azerbaijan “On Non-governmental organizations (public associations and foundations);

• Urge Azerbaijan as a member of Council of Europe to respect the right to freedom of association and rights of the human rights defenders.