European Court of Human Rights Receives Barrage of Complaints from Azerbaijan

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Radio Azadliq


Having devaluated the manat, the government cut back on expenditures from the state treasury

for paying compensation to the owners of demolished residencies. If, previous to the devaluation, citizens were payed 1500 manat per square meter of such residential premises, today in the dollar equivalent this sum has been reduced twofold and continues to lose value in the wake of the manat’s falling exchange value.

Beginning in 2011, civil servants at the Baku mayor’s office and police department forced citizens to leave their apartments for a compensation of 1500 manat per 1 m


. Since devaluation began, the government cannot be bothered to tie the amount of compensation to the growing exchange rate of the dollar. It’s clear that such a position will reduce expenditures, in particular on large-scale construction projects, which will be accompanied by the demolition of thousands of homes by the year 2020. Owners will suffer as a result – they are receiving twice as little in exchange for their homes.

The scandalous and illegal campaign by Azerbaijani civil servants to expropriate homeowners continues. Next in the series are pilot projects for demolition of old buildings and construction of new ones in the Surakhany, Khatai, Narimanov, Nasimi, Yasamal, Sabail, and Pirallahy raions. The conditions of demolition and the amount of compensation for owners have not been announced. The State Committee for City Building and Architecture assures that during the project international norms for residential buildings, standards for population density and corresponding green spaces, etc. will be observed. But will the rights of the citizens be observed?

In Baku’s Narimanov Region (behind the Sharq Bazar market) the next demolition of old buildings has begun. On Karabakh Street several buildings are already destroyed, and active preparations are underway for the demolition of the remaining buildings. By decision of the Cabinet of Ministers, 219 buildings in total will be demolished here, in which there are 3028 apartments. However, many of the residents are refusing to leave their apartments. Part of the owners are dissatisfied with the miserly compensation, the other part demands that they receive in exchange the apartments and homes that will be built in place of the old.

What is the basis for setting compensation at 1500 manat? Only the government functionaries themselves know this. And by the way, it’s also unclear what the basis is for demolition of the so-called ‘old’ buildings. On what basis are residential buildings in the mentioned locations of the capital considered dilapidated? The public is unacquainted with the contents of this document.

Is it worth explaining that claims regarding the decrepitude of the residential areas of the country’s capital city cannot simply be unfounded claims, and must be based on technical certification information? But is there a technical database for drawing conclusions regarding the usability and technical characteristics of the buildings being demolished? And if it does exist, who has seen it? And finally: how can one make a diagnosis without having seen the patient? Baku in fact is facing massive, illegal demolition of real estate, where investors’ wishes and profits decide everything. The center of the capital is a favorite spot for builders of multi-story projects.

Over many years in this country citizens’ fundamental right to private property has been violated. “The Azerbaijani mass media is writing with increasing frequency about the violation of the rights of citizens who are forced to leave their homes under pretense of government need”, notes the lawyer Fuad Agayev. The government forgot about the existence of the Civil and Housing Codices. Nobody has the right to confiscate real estate for the construction of a park or for some other of the functionaries’ whims.

“Residencies can be bought up only in one case – that the plot of land underneath them is important for government purposes. This includes the construction of roads, communication lines, and objects of significance for defense purposes or for defining a border region. Decisions regarding the purchase and expropriation of a plot for government needs are made by the Cabinet of Ministers, and should be registered in the State Register of Real Estate”, explained the lawyer. After this the government informs the owner in writing of the decision and the date of its public registration. What is very important si that by law the notification must be presented a year before the purchase. A purchase is permitted before the expiration of this period, but only in if the owner agrees to this.

Is there no court decision on the purchase? Then the citizen has the full right to ownership of his or her property. By the way, regarding the 1500 manat compensation… So far, not one government functionary has explained the origin of this sum. By law, the purchasing price of residential buildings, the term and other conditions for purchase are defined by agreement with the owner of the residential building. The price is determined taking into account the market cost and the losses incurred by the owner, which are inevitable in order to change of place of residence, temporarily moving out of an apartment, moving, the search for a new place of residence, formalizing the title to a property, and so on.

Moreover, the purchasing price is determined by appraisers in accordance with the law “On appraisal activities”, said the lawyer, noting that by agreement with the owner, he or she can be presented with a different residence which offsets the cost of the previous one. “If the citizen does not agree with the purchasing decision, or if an agreement is not reached with him/her, the Cabinet of Ministers can bring a suit in court regarding the purchase for government needs within two years from the moment when the notification was sent to the owner of the apartment”, said Agayev.

Often demolition takes place without permission of the Cabinet of Ministers and because of this there is not a legal procedure for appraisal of the place of residence. Moreover, in a number of cases there is no sort of legal basis for expropriation of the property, since the construction of a park or something similar cannot serve as an argument. Moreover, executive power cannot force eviction or issue such suits for government need. Yes, people can agree to leave their homes voluntarily, but in the case of the mass evictions on Sovietsky Street, citizens were made to do so by force, violating the Constitution, the laws of the country and the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. People who don’t agree to leave their homes have their gas and electricity turned off, in addition to other difficulties. For refusing and demanding fair compensation people are subjected to moral and physical pressure, and their homes are destroyed regardless of court decisions that demolitions be terminated.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) established communication regarding 32 complaints from Azerbaijan. The devaluation of the manat and the depreciation of the established compensation for demolished places of residence may lead to a barrage of appeals to the European Court of Human Rights.

Tatiana Samoilova

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