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Item 6 Consideration of UPR Reports – Report of the UPR Working Group on Azerbaijan
June 11, 2009

UN Human Rights Council 11th Session
Statement by the Delegation of the United States
June 11, 2009

Thank you, Mr. President and thank you to H.E. the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs for your presentation today.

The United States applauds Azerbaijan’s establishment of national action plans to protect human rights and to combat trafficking. We encourage the government to ensure their effective implementation.

We support a number of the recommendations made by delegations in the Working Group report regarding the importance of Azerbaijan’s full respect for freedom of expression and the media, including by reversing the ban on foreign FM radio broadcasting and by investigating and prosecuting crimes and violations against journalists and human rights defenders.

Azerbaijan has also established a working group on the judiciary with the Council of Europe. The United States strongly supports the recommendation that Azerbaijan adopt safeguards against arbitrary or politically motivated detention and trials, including through full independence and transparency of the judiciary. In that regard, we commend Azerbaijan for working with the European Committee on the Prevention of Torture, and we support the recommendation made in the Working Group report to improve the administration of justice, including through the establishment of a system to follow up on complaints of allegations of torture.

The United States must also express concerns about the process by which the March referendum was conducted. These concerns include: limited public debate and discussion of the issues, due to the haste with which the referendum was organized; restrictions on freedom of the media and assembly; lack of clarity on some of the referendum’s provisions; reports of interference by police and local officials; inflated voter turnout figures; and flawed vote counting. Post-election complaints and appeals were also handled poorly. We urge Azerbaijan to take concrete steps to address these shortcomings.

Thank you.