UN experts concerned with the problems of civil society in Azerbaijan

Economic Development of Azerbaijan should be based on human rights and open dialogue. This is the general opinion of the members of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, who visited Azerbaijan to study the human rights situation in the field of business.

During a 10-day visit, the guests met in Baku and Ganja with representatives of various government agencies, business, civil society and media.

August 27, they shared with the primary findings at a press conference.

Oil and gas revenues of Azerbaijan will significantly reduce the level of poverty in the country. However, 40% of the population are citizens with low incomes.

Ways to solve existing problems and to achieve further economic and social progress experts see the multi-stakeholder dialogue involving government, business and civil society.

“We want to note that in recent years, several NGOs have problems with frozen bank accounts, denial of registration grants. As a result, the NGOs have been forced to suspend operations. The reason for this was the recent tightening of legislation,” said the expert UN Pulvan Selvanatan.

However, he noted that among these NGOs were members of the EITI in the mining industry.

Selvanatan urged the government to ensure transparency, impartiality, efficiency and timeliness of procedures for registering grants.

Asked by Turan to comment on the pretrial arrests of civil society activists, Selvanatan said that in any country, it is important to ensure the rule of law, and therefore did not want to speak before the end of trial.

In turn, his colleague Paul Sulyandziga said that the arrests of known representatives of civil society, is a concern. “We cannot comment until the investigation is completed, we pre-arranged to meet with these people, but because of their arrest, we could not do it,” he said.

After the meeting, the expert said that there were planned meetings with three of the 4 arrested activists: Leyla Yunus, Intigam Aliyev and Rasul Jafarov.

“The government must ensure the smooth implementation of the legitimate and peaceful activities of human rights defenders,” said Sulyandziga.

In the primary conclusions of the UN experts noted the importance of ensuring transparency issues in the fight against corruption. In this regard, civil society and a free press is of great concern to the assignment of a trade secret information about the owners of commercial entities.

The experts also put forward a number of recommendations. In particular, proposed to reduce the economy’s dependence on oil and gas, to improve women’s employment, remove barriers to small business development.

Noting the efficiency of the service ASAN Khidmet, the experts recommend to also ensure more transparency in the tendering process for procurement, revenue of SOCAR, enforcement of property rights and the payment of adequate compensation for relocation of citizens.

According to the experts, corruption is mainly related to the lack of transparency and monopolies in certain sectors of the economy.

On Turan’s question of how to assess no declaration by civil servants of their income Sulyandziga noted that the declaration of state employees is an important indicator of the transparency of the government and the country’s image.

The final report with recommendations will be presented to the UN Council on Human Rights in June 2015.

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UN experts concerned with the problems of civil society in Azerbaijan

August 28th, 2014

Economic Development of Azerbaijan should be based on human rights and open dialogue. This is the general opinion of the members of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, who visited Azerbaijan to study the human rights situation in the field of business.

During a 10-day visit, the guests met in Baku and Ganja with representatives of various government agencies, business, civil society and media.

August 27, they shared with the primary findings at a press conference.

Oil and gas revenues of Azerbaijan will significantly reduce the level of poverty in the country. However, 40% of the population are citizens with low incomes.

Ways to solve existing problems and to achieve further economic and social progress experts see the multi-stakeholder dialogue involving government, business and civil society.

“We want to note that in recent years, several NGOs have problems with frozen bank accounts, denial of registration grants. As a result, the NGOs have been forced to suspend operations. The reason for this was the recent tightening of legislation,” said the expert UN Pulvan Selvanatan.

However, he noted that among these NGOs were members of the EITI in the mining industry.

Selvanatan urged the government to ensure transparency, impartiality, efficiency and timeliness of procedures for registering grants.

Asked by Turan to comment on the pretrial arrests of civil society activists, Selvanatan said that in any country, it is important to ensure the rule of law, and therefore did not want to speak before the end of trial.

In turn, his colleague Paul Sulyandziga said that the arrests of known representatives of civil society, is a concern. “We cannot comment until the investigation is completed, we pre-arranged to meet with these people, but because of their arrest, we could not do it,” he said.

After the meeting, the expert said that there were planned meetings with three of the 4 arrested activists: Leyla Yunus, Intigam Aliyev and Rasul Jafarov.

“The government must ensure the smooth implementation of the legitimate and peaceful activities of human rights defenders,” said Sulyandziga.

In the primary conclusions of the UN experts noted the importance of ensuring transparency issues in the fight against corruption. In this regard, civil society and a free press is of great concern to the assignment of a trade secret information about the owners of commercial entities.

The experts also put forward a number of recommendations. In particular, proposed to reduce the economy’s dependence on oil and gas, to improve women’s employment, remove barriers to small business development.

Noting the efficiency of the service ASAN Khidmet, the experts recommend to also ensure more transparency in the tendering process for procurement, revenue of SOCAR, enforcement of property rights and the payment of adequate compensation for relocation of citizens.

According to the experts, corruption is mainly related to the lack of transparency and monopolies in certain sectors of the economy.

On Turan’s question of how to assess no declaration by civil servants of their income Sulyandziga noted that the declaration of state employees is an important indicator of the transparency of the government and the country’s image.

The final report with recommendations will be presented to the UN Council on Human Rights in June 2015.

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