TODAY.AZ / Politics

Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe adopted two decisions on Azerbaijan

24 June 2005 [09:21] - TODAY.AZ
A report of the PACE raporteur Malcolm Bruce on the political prisoner problem and the report named “Activity of the democratic institutions in Azerbaijan” prepared by the PACE co-rapporteurs on Azerbaijan Andreas Gross and Andres Herkel were listened to in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Because of discussions of the reports was not so heartwarming for Azerbaijan, some arguments took place during the discussion hours.

Though the representatives of several countries called the reports “biased reports”, a decision was adopted after adding one-two points to it after the discussions lasted 3 hours. Attention was mostly paid to the forthcoming elections because the previous elections held since Azerbaijan entering to the Council of Europe in 2001 were not considered satisfactory in the PACE decision related to activity of the democratic institutions in Azerbaijan. PACE called to treat with respect the right of free gathering, freedom of speech and just court, welcomed the decrees on improving the election environment and stressed that the document repeat the principles reflected in the legislation of Azerbaijan.

The assembly welcomed the decree about forming the public television on the base of the second state channel (AzTV2), considered estimable assertion of the Broadcasting Council and later the Directors Council by the parliament and expected the television to be broadcasted soon. The assembly expressed its regret about partial privatization of the first state channel (AzTV1) and shares block being under the control of the state.

It recommended to intensify forming the public television and not to allow outside interventions in its activity.

The assembly condemned once again the murder of the editor-in-chief of the “Monitor” journal Elmar Huseynov, and called to stop putting pressure upon the oppositionist press. The assembly called the government of Azerbaijan to respect the freedom of free gathering and freedom of speech, especially to observe the European standards and practice related to freedom of free gathering, to speed forming the Public Television in connection with the press pluralism, to provide this structure with all kinds of resources, to speed the process of privatizing AzTV1, to provide free activity of the independent and oppositionist press in connection with freedom of speech, to lighten comprehensively the investigation of the criminal case on the Elmar Huseynov’s murder, to observe the recommendations of the Venice Commission and Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights on the Election Code, to reduce the registration fee of the candidates, and to allow holding rallies and the foreign-financed NGOs observing the elections.

The assembly also called the government to continue the dialogue with all oppositionist parties before the elections, during the elections and after the elections. PACE recommended the government of Azerbaijan to speed the court reforms, to provide holding specialty examinations of new judges in accordance with a planned table, to amend the election procedure of the members of the Lawyers Association in accordance with the law, to provide holding future examinations in full accordance with the European standards, and to fulfill the decrees on the political prisoners with the law of just court.

The assembly valued highly its open and warm dialogue with the delegation of the Azerbaijani parliament. The assembly believes that such constructive cooperation will play a great role in the upcoming elections.

The assembly also declared its intention to observe the parliamentary election to be held in November together with the Parliamentary Assembly of OSCE and to send significant observers. Though Andreas Gross and Andres Herkel offered in their reports not to assert the credentials of the delegation to be sent to this structure in 2006 in case if the upcoming elections are not held democratically and are faced with the international censure, it is noted in the 17th paragraph of the PACE decision in the following form: “Assembly hopes that the forthcoming parliamentary elections will be held in such a democratic and transparent manner that the credentials of the new delegation will not be in doubt”.

The decision on the political prisoner problem in Azerbaijan was also adopted on the basis of the report of the raporteur on this field Malcolm Bruce. The member of the delegation of Azerbaijan in PACE Gultakin Hajiyeva informed in response to Gross and Bruce stressing seriousness of the political prisoner problem in Azerbaijan that the problem is over and the persons who are required to be released now are the “ordinary offenders”. It is noted in the decision on the political prisoner question that 5 pardon decrees were issued during the last 1,5 years. M.Bruce specially noted release of Surat Huseynov, Rahim Gaziyev, Alakram Humbatov and 7 famous members of the political opposition. M.Bruce informed that in the result of the investigations held by CE since 2001 the independent experts analyzed a list consisting of 716 persons and ended their mandates by considering 62 of them as the political prisoners in 2004. M.Bruce also criticized the former general secretary of PACE Walter Schwimmer in his report. Walter Schwimmer was charged of not prolonging the period of the mandates of the CE experts. Activity of the delegation of Azerbaijan in PACE and works conducted in the direction of solving the political prisoner problem were also welcomed in the report.

However, at the same time it was also informed in the report that the political prisoner question is not closed in Azerbaijan yet and the government was invited to more constructive dialogue for speedily solving the problem. Unconditional release of the three persons considered as the political prisoners by CE was specially swelled in the report. M.Bruce noted that 43 persons were not recognized as the political prisoners and informed that they want these persons to be released or their trials to be reconsidered only because of their health conditions.

In the report where it is noted that the last list consisting of 107 persons was composed after 2004 and this list does not concern the previous list, it was also stressed that only 3 of the persons whose names were included in the “old list” are still in prison.

It was noted that court processes taken place in 2004 do not also fully conform to the CE standards as the previous processes. The assembly expressed its anxiety about courts’ being unjust and their disability of fully observing the law. In the report where it is stressed that the fulfilling of the undertaken commitments of the government of Azerbaijan in connection with the just court principle does not fully conform to the paragraphs of the European Convention on Human Rights, anxiety was expressed about law violations in the justice and law system of the country, violations in prisons, living condition of the prisoners and continuation of the political imprisonments. It is stressed in the report where anxiety is expressed on suppressing of the revolt taken place in February 2005 that cases of torture were also registered.

The most interesting part of the report is related to Alakram Hummatov’s being sent into “political exile” after he had been released. In the report where it is indicated that CE expressed its special gratitude to the government of Netherlands for giving a political asylum to A.Hummatov, CE’s positive responding to the appeals related to him was welcomed.

M.Bruce also valued positively activity of NGOs in Azerbaijan and informed that he closely cooperates with them and he is satisfied with their close contacts with the prisoners and their families. He wanted the trials of Elchin Amiraslanov, Arif Kazimov and Safa Poladov who were life sentenced for the events taken place in March of 1995 to be reviewed and especially the trials of Rasim Akbarov, Sakhavat Humbatov, Magsud Huseynov, Vagif Huseynov, Ilham Ismayilov and Rza Guliyev who are among 43 ill prisoners to be reviewed sooner. The assembly also requested the parliament of Azerbaijan to adopt a “great amnesty” for national truce, to close criminal cases raised on the persons living abroad and not being able to return to Baku and to provide normal political activity for them. PACE recommended the Ministers Cabinet to intensify the negotiations with the government of Azerbaijan and to convince of efficiency of cooperation with CE. We should note that APA spread the reports of A.Gross, A.Henkel and M.Bruce.


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