Strasbourg, 13.06.2013 – The co-rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of Azerbaijan, Pedro Agramunt (Spain, EPP/CD) and Joseph Debono Grech (Malta, SOC), have stressed the need for the creation of conditions which would allow for a fair electoral campaign during the forthcoming presidential election, in compliance with democratic standards.
Speaking at the end of a three-day fact-finding visit to Baku, they said they had urged the authorities to find a compromise on locations for election rallies in Baku which, while meeting safety requirements, would be easily accessible and close to the city centre. They have been given assurances that such a place would be found.
They also called on the authorities to ensure freedom of expression and to investigate all cases of beatings and harassment reported by some journalists and bring the perpetrators to justice. They raised some cases of detained journalists and activists, and drew the authorities' attention to the alleged deficiencies in the judicial procedure. They also raised other concerns with regard to the independence of justice.
Furthermore, they recalled concerns identified by PACE observers during previous elections and called on the authorities to address them without further delay.
In the Parliament, they expressed concern at the adoption of recent legislative acts, including the Law on Criminalisation of Defamation on the Internet, and the amendments to the Law on NGOs and to the Code of Administrative offences.
Finally, the co-rapporteurs noted the authorities’ declared readiness to co-operate and undertake concrete measures in order to address their concerns. They announced that they would closely follow further developments.
During their visit, the co-rapporteurs met the President of the Republic, the Interior and Justice Ministers, the Prosecutor General, the President of the Supreme Court and the Chair of the Presidium of the Bar Association. In the Parliament, they met Speaker of the Milli Mejlis, the leaders of political parties in parliament, the Chair of the parliamentary Committee on Law Policy and State Building, and members of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE.
They also held meetings with leaders of the extra-parliamentary opposition and representatives of civil society. They met Ilgar Mammadov, the leader of the Republican Alternative Movement REAL, and Tofiq Yaqubli, deputy head of the Musavat Party, in a pre-trial detention centre in Baku. They also visited the Asan Service Centre in Baku, run by the State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations.