One year since the closure of Azerbaijan Human Rights House

One year has passed since Azerbaijan Human Rights House was asked to seize all activities until an agreement with the authorities was adopted.

One year after, despite of regular communication with the Azerbaijani authorities, the Azerbaijan Human Rights House is still closed.

In addition, in January 2012, the Azerbaijan Human Rights House had to move out of its premises, as the local owner did not want to renew the contract after being contacted by the Azerbaijani police in December 2011.

– We regret that the Azerbaijani authorities use their legislation to limit the freedom of association in the country, which is a fundamental right that all member states of the Council of Europe have committed themselves to, says Maria Dahle, executive director of the Human Rights House Foundation.

Maria Dahle, executive director Human Rights House Foundation

The Azerbaijan Human Rights House was registered as an international branch of the Human Rights House Foundation in 2007. Consequently the registration was in compliance with the Azerbaijan legislation at the time of the registration.

The legal amendments from 2009, which justified the closure of the Azerbaijan Human Rights House, do not specify whether they apply to previously registered NGOs.

The Azerbaijan Human Rights House has reported timely and received no prior warnings or notifications of it being in breach of any provisions of Azerbaijani law or regulations at any time prior to the notification in 2011. 

The Venice Commission stated in October 2011 that the amendments to the Azerbaijani NGO Law and the March 2011 decree, setting new requirements for foreign NGOs, overturn the efforts to meet international standards. According to the Venice Commission the requirement for the bilateral agreement between a foreign NGO and the national authorities is in itself questionable and the conditions set are rather problematic and unclear.

– We call upon the Azerbaijani authorities to finalize the agreement and let the Azerbaijan Human Rights House re-open now, says Maria Dahle, who will raise the concern of the human right situation in Azerbaijan in the UN Human Rights Council next week.

From the opening of the house, 2009.

As underlined in the communication to the authorities, the Azerbaijan Human Rights House is an independent and non-partisan organization, which is not supportive or linked to any political groups or governments, but only focus on human rights issues.

The events at the Azerbaijan Human Rights House are and shall always be related to human rights issues relevant for the citizens of Azerbaijan, promoting and respecting the regional and international human rights principles and standards the Republic of Azerbaijan has committed itself to as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Council of Europe (CoE), and the United Nations (UN).

For editors

Maria Dahle
Executive director, Human Rights House Foundation
+47 9286 1771

Ane Tusvik Bonde
Regional manager of Eastern Europe and Caucasus
+47 9974 3907

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