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Azerbaijan: another step towards free, fair and democratic elections but human rights concerns remain

The parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan were “another step towards free, fair and democratic elections” and the result of the vote expressed the will of the Azerbaijani people, according to the final report of the PACE observer delegation, debated today in Sofia by the Assembly’s Standing Committee.

“Election day was calm and peaceful across the country,” said the report, by delegation head Jordi Xuclà (Spain, ALDE), and no major or systemic violations of the Election Code were observed. However, in a few polling stations minor ballot stuffing and some group voting was observed.

Besides electoral issues, however, the delegation noted with regret that “serious concerns in the sphere of human rights still remain in Azerbaijan as, in particular, a large number of human rights defenders and NGO activists are imprisoned on different charges”. It called on the Azerbaijani authorities to urgently improve the situation of human rights and to continue the democratic development of the country after the elections.

The delegation also called on Azerbaijan to take note of relevant recommendations of the Venice Commission.

Two separate statements by some members of the delegation were annexed to the report.