The monitoring committee declassified an information note of the co-rapporteurs Stefan Schennach (Austria, SOC) and Cezar Florin Preda (Romania, EPP/CD), on Mr Schennach’s three-day fact-finding visit to the country (6-8 April 2016). The note welcomed the release of some human right defenders and political activists, which was seen as a positive step that hopefully would lead to further releases in the near future.
As regards the legislation governing NGOs in Azerbaijan, the note stressed that the important work of civil society needs to be facilitated, and the authorities are therefore encouraged to work closely with the Council of Europe on the reform of the NGO legislation and its implementation to ensure compliance with European standards.
As the functioning of the judiciary is concerned, specific ongoing cases of human rights defenders and political activists were considered. In addition, the note encourages further reforms to be carried out by the authorities with a view to strengthening the independence of the judiciary and to increasing trust in the judicial system.
Regarding the follow-up of the November 2015 general elections, the note highlighted the importance of a reform of the electoral law and practice with the aim to implement the Council of Europe recommendations. The note also welcomed the decision to organise a re-run of the elections in district 90 which were canceled by the Central Election Commission following irregularities in the election process during the November 2015 elections.
Finally, the note stressed the need to maintain the current momentum and continue dialogue in the above-mentioned priority areas, and recalled that the Council of Europe is ready to assist the competent authorities with finding ways to align domestic law with Council of Europe standards and to ensure that the law is applied in line with the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights.