UN Human Rights Committee Publishes Concluding Report on Azerbaijan

The UN Human Rights Committee published its final report on the situation in Azerbaijan regarding civil and political rights. This question was discussed on October 20-21 in Geneva, with participation of representatives of Azerbaijan.

This article was originally published in Russian by

Radio Azadliq.


The UN Human Rights Committee published its


report on the situation in Azerbaijan regarding civil and political rights. This question was discussed on October 20-21 in Geneva, with the participation of representatives from Azerbaijan.

The report was compiled with the participation of 18 international, independent experts, who are engaged in monitoring the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

This many-page document was published by the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and contains a broad assessment of the state of legislation and the situation on the ground in the country.

In particularly, the committee expressed concern regarding changes to the Constitution of Azerbaijan during the referendum of September 26, 2016, and the implementation of this reform “without participation of parliament or public discussion”.

The changes implemented might restrict the rights of citizens, threaten the independence of the judiciary, increase the powers of the president and reduce his political accountability, and restrict the rights of parliament.

The committee is concerned by documented incidents of discrimination towards sexual minorities and people with disabilities, and by the fact that children with mental disabilities are locked away in psychiatric wards.

There are also recorded incidents of violation of gender rights, incidents of child marriage, and religious and temporary marriages (Kabin and sighe) and domestic violence against women.

The document further states, “The Committee is concerned by constant reports of torture and cruel treatment, including towards journalists, human rights defenders and youth activists, which in a number of cases lead to their death.”

There are documented incidents of violence and torture in prisons, corruption in the penitentiary service and in police detention centers. Prisoners are commonly denied access to a lawyer, of whom there are not enough.

The committee is concerned by the dependence of the judiciary on the executive branch and the offices of the public prosecutor.

The Judicial-Legal Council is under the influence of the executive branch and the judicial system itself is corrupted.

The committee is concerned about reports of physical attacks, politically motivated criminal allegations against lawyers who criticized the political powers and government employees. Pressure continues to be exerted on lawyers defending human rights defenders, activists and journalists.

The government is obligated to eliminate all these influences and to not allow their repetition.

The committee condemns the travel bans placed on a number of journalists, opposition politicians, human rights defenders and human rights lawyers and calls on similar bans to be removed without delay.

Regarding the question of religion, the committee criticized the restriction of the rights of believers, the requirement that Muslim congregations receive permission to register with the Administration of Muslims of the Caucasus, the requirement that religious literature be censured, and also the instances of restrictions placed on and persecution of members of non-traditional religious communities, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses.

As previously, the committee is concerned about widespread restrictions placed on freedom of expression, including intimidation, arbitrary arrests and detentions, and cruel treatment and condemnation of human rights defenders, youth activists, political opponents, independent journalists and bloggers, on the basis of politically-motivated and fabricated accusations of hooliganism, narcotics, economic crimes, tax evasion, and so on.

Particular concern is raised by the revocation of Radio Liberty’s broadcasting license and also the politically-motivated criminal cases against journalists from Meydan TV and financial pressure on the independent newspaper



The committee is concerned by restrictions placed on the right to peaceful assembly and the application of excessive force towards individuals participating in peaceful protests. This applies, in particular, to the case of youth activists during the demonstrations of September 17, 2016 and other demonstrations in the run-up to the September 26 referendum.

“Azerbaijan should review its laws and proceedings for ensuring the rights of citizens to utilize the freedom of assembly, to quickly and effectively investigate all instances of violence, excessive application of force by members of law-enforcement agencies, and arbitrary arrests and detentions of peaceful demonstrators and should hold accountable those responsible.”

The committee expresses concern regarding legal restrictions to the freedoms of assembly and association, the refusal to register independent NGOs, bans on their activities and international financing, and severe punishment for violating these provisions.

The committee is also concerned by reports of government demands that individuals residing in Nakhichevan are required to join the ruling party.

The committee expresses concern regarding instances of discrimination towards Azerbaijani citizens of Armenian descent and instances of refusal to allow entry into the country for foreigners with Armenian surnames.

The committee requests that Azerbaijan present its next, periodic report by November 4, 2020, and include in it information about implementation of the recommendations laid out in the current report.

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