Anti-Azerbaijani forces seek to prevent dialogue between civil society, authorities

The joint working group on human rights issues in Azerbaijan has issued a statement following Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland’s decision to withdraw the participation of his representative in the joint working group.

“In 2005, the Joint Working Group on human rights issues, composed of representatives of human rights organizations and authorities were established in Azerbaijan. The Joint Working Group has stressed, with regard to a number of human rights issues raised at that time, that those issues could be resolved in the framework of cooperation between the human rights organisations and authorities within the country.

However, anti-Azerbaijani forces, including some groups in the Council of Europe tried to prevent the dialogue between the civil society and authorities in our country. Members of the working group have called on the Council of Europe not to create obstacles to this dialogue, but the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, having guided by its biased approach, succeeded in termination of the activities of the working group. Notwithstanding that during the functioning of the working group about 150 prisoners whose issues have been raised by the human rights organizations were released.

In 2014, Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland, asked the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, to restore the functioning of the Joint Working Group, and Azerbaijan’s President demonstrated goodwill and gave his consent to this step.

On 22 October 2014 the Joint Working Group, composed of representatives of civil society and authorities, held its first, after 2008, meeting. At their meetings, with participation of the Council of Europe’s representative, members of the Joint Working Group have discussed issues related to persons whose rights were allegedly violated and adopted proposals to relevant authorities, including courts, to resolve those issues. Furthermore, urgent questions related to development of human rights and civil society have been discussed at the working group’s meetings, and steps undertaken to resolve certain problems.

Functioning of the working group during such short period of time resulted in release of sixteen and reduction of sentence of one person appearing in the lists of human rights organizations.

These results indicate that operation of the working group served to effective solution of the mentioned issues and development of constructive and open dialogue between the representatives of civil society and authorities in Azerbaijan.

In these circumstances, the decision of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe can only occasion surprise and regret.

We, members of the Joint Working Group, believe that an intergovernmental organization, instead of running messages of certain circles, should have an objective approach to each and every Member-State, make correct assessment of the positive results achieved within the framework of cooperation, and support dialogue between the civil society and authorities.

We consider that the Secretary General’s this groundless decision taken under insistence and influence of anti-Azerbaijani forces shall affect only the credibility of the Council of Europe.

The Joint Working Group calls on Anti-Azerbaijani forces to stop their dirty tricks and declares that such manipulations cannot create any obstacle to development of human rights and continuing dialogue between civil society and authorities in Azerbaijan,” the statement reads.