TODAY.AZ / Politics

Rabiyat Aslanova: "The report of the US Department of State would better fix situation in the Guantanamo prison and the state of prisoners' rights there"

02 June 2008 [10:51] - TODAY.AZ
Day.Az interview with chairman of Milli Medjlis commission on human rights Rabiyat Aslanova.
- How do you assess the part of the report of the US Department of State on human rights, related to Azerbaijan?

- On the whole, I assess the report on Azerbaijan as biased and far from reality. I have voiced my resentment on this issue during the meeting with US Ambassador to Azerbaijan Anne Derse.

I think the organization which undertook the mission to assess situation with human rights in various countries of the world, should be maximally objective. Experts, working at the report, should not close eyes on conduction of democratic reforms and establishment of democratic principles. In particular, as to Azerbaijan I would like to note that the report of the US Department of State did not fix any positive assessments to our reforms both in the sphere of national legislation and court system as well as the activity of executives bodies, given by international experts.

It feels like experts of the Department of State are analyzing a frozen situation. If we compare the reports, prepared five years ago, and the current one, we will see no differences between them. Then why do international experts, monitoring situation with human rights, reforms in various spheres of sociopolitical life, positively assess the situation in Azerbaijan?

For example, amendments have been introduced to the law "On Freedom of Assembly", which was positively assessed by the Venice Commission. The same can be said about amendments to the Electoral Code. Azerbaijan is developing its national legislation on the basis of successful practice in the world.

I think a serious organization, which the US Department of State is considered to be, should not look for only negative moments in Azerbaijan.

- The report criticizes the court system in Azerbaijan. Is it objective in this sense?

- The report fixes concerns regarding this system. Yet, I would like to note that for long years Azerbaijan has been conducting the reforms of the court system. The laws, adopted in this sphere, are the most successful in the sphere of international law.

I would like to note that the laws, adopted in Azerbaijan, fix loyalty  of our country even more than some European countries. For example, foreigners are allowed to hold political actions in Azerbaijan in line with alterations to the law "On Freedom of Assembly". However, the laws of some European countries do not allow such actions. These countries, dealing with issues of migrants, do not include the right of foreigners for freedom of assembly, thus depriving them of it.

- What would you say about the situation with media freedom in Azerbaijan?

- The conditions, created in Azerbaijan for media freedom, do not exist anywhere in the world. It is unjust to state in the report that Azerbaijan has problems in this sphere. The report mentions the imprisoned journalists but I think that people should be assessed for their activity not for profession. If a person, who committed a crime, is punished, it should be only welcomed.

- Will the report of the US department of state influence the pre-election situation in Azerbaijan?

- I am displeased that the situation was assessed like that before the presidential elections. Azerbaijani people will demonstrate their political will. One can not influence the choice of the Azerbaijani people, try to change its opinion and doubt its choice. This can be assessed as violation of the rights of people.

- The report says about restrictions of the activity of religious sects.

- This is a conclusion of experts, which have no information regarding religious situation in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is a secular state, where religion acts separately from the state. The country's constitution fixes principles of religious freedom and citizens use these rights.

If the matter is sects, banned in Europe, if someone wants to encourage activity of religious sects, dangerous for national interests, they will not attain it in Azerbaijan.

- Can this report be assessed as pressure on Azerbaijan before elections?

- I would not like to comment on it in this direction, as Azerbaijan is quite a strong country. Powers, who spoke with Azerbaijan in this language in 1992-1993, currently can not speak to us this way. Azerbaijan has strengthened its economy, raised its political authority and consolidated positions in the world arena through the past years.

Azerbaijan has made its choice. Our country declared promotion of democratic principles and provision of human rights to be its top priority. Democracy is a dynamic process, Naturally, a country can face various obstacles on the way to democratic development. This is cased both by changes in stereotypes as well as international pressure. Azerbaijan is ready to it. People support the head of state and therefore, our resistance to various pressures is strong.

National leader Heydar Aliyev used to say that no matter how hard gaining independence is, its preservation is even harder. If the report contained our achievements as well, I would have stressed the need to ponder over it.

I would like very much that the report of the US Department of State contained situation in the Guantanamo prison and state of rights of prisoners there.


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