U.S. Statement at the UPR of Azerbaijan

As delivered by Jessica Carl
30th Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group
Geneva, May 15, 2018

The United States welcomes the Azerbaijan delegation and has the following recommendations:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally release all individuals in custody for exercising their fundamental rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, association, assembly, and religion.
  1. Permit peaceful civic activity by ending cases against NGOs and independent media, removing undue restrictions to accessing foreign grants and amending laws regarding the registration, operation, and funding of NGOs, in accordance with the recommendations of multilateral institutions, and ending the blocking of independent and opposition websites.
  1. Amend the Law on Advocates and Advocates’ Activities to remove executive and judicial representatives from the Qualification Commission of the Bar Association, to prevent the use of punitive measures against lawyers for their human rights work, and to ensure transparent criteria and procedures for admission.

We are troubled by deterioration of human rights and fundamental freedoms since the last UPR in 2013.  As a result of restrictions on freedoms of expression, association, and assembly, political and civic space is now severely constrained.  While some individuals incarcerated for exercising fundamental freedoms have been released, an even larger number remain behind bars.  At the same time, the authorities have made it difficult for lawyers to defend the fundamental freedoms of Azerbaijanis in court.

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