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2017 October 13 ( Friday )  18:12:23
Print version
Русский Azərbaycan

 

Azerbaijan: UN rights experts alarmed by reports of persecution of people perceived to be gay or trans

Geneva/13.10.17/Turan: A group of UN experts* has urged Azerbaijan to act after receiving credible reports of human rights abuses against gay and transgender people, including arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment, torture and forced medical examinations in detention.

"We are deeply disturbed by a series of police raids launched since mid-September in the capital, Baku, leading to the arrest and detention of more than 80 people perceived to be gay, transgender or whom the authorities have alleged are involved in sex work," the experts said.

"International human rights law and the treaty obligations of Azerbaijan are clear - no one should be arrested on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or because they are or are perceived to be a sex worker.

"Azerbaijan should repeal imprecisely worded laws that are used to carry out arbitrary arrests," the experts added.

According to information received by the experts, some of the detainees allegedly suffered beatings, humiliation, electric shocks and forced shaving, partly to coerce them to incriminate themselves or disclose the names of acquaintances, and some were held incommunicado. These would constitute violations of the obligations of Azerbaijan to prevent and protect people from torture and ill-treatment.

Complaints about their treatment were raised in court hearings, but reportedly failed to prompt any reaction from judges and were not sent to the prosecutor"s office despite requests from the victims" lawyers, the experts understand.

"We call on the authorities to investigate promptly and thoroughly all allegations of torture and ill-treatment and ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with adequate sanctions," the experts said.

"We remind Azerbaijan that statements made as a result of torture should never be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against the person accused of torture."

All those arrested have since been freed, although some served terms of administrative detention after being charged with offences such as hooliganism and resisting a police order.

The authorities have alleged that the arrests were prompted by complaints about disturbances caused by sex work in central Baku, and to prevent a risk to public health from the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. However, the vast majority of those arrested deny being involved in sex work. Furthermore, these arrests are entirely counterproductive - they make it less likely that people will access health services, flying in the face of evidence and good practice, the experts noted.

The experts also highlighted concerns that those arrested were forced to undergo medical examinations and treatment, and information about their health status was divulged to the media.

"Azerbaijan should immediately cease subjecting people to forced or coerced medical tests and exams and disclosing their health records publicly, which violates the absolute prohibition on torture and ill-treatment and the rights to health and privacy of individuals," said the experts.

"We call on the authorities to protect the rights of everyone without discrimination - including people perceived to be gay or transgender, and those who are or are perceived to be sex workers. Those who have been arbitrarily detained and subjected to abuses should be afforded effective remedy, including reparations."

"We strongly urge the Azerbaijani authorities to take concrete steps, through education and public policies, to combat deeply entrenched negative social perceptions, misconceptions and prejudice against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, in order to tackle the root causes of violence and discrimination perpetrated against them," they said.

The experts are in contact with the Azerbaijani authorities and closely monitoring the situation. -02D-

Azerbaijan will take part in the gasification of Bulgaria and the development of the network of filling stations

Baku / 13.10.17 / Turan: Energy issues have become one of the main topics of the talks between the presidents of Azerbaijan and Bulgaria in Baku today. "Energy is an area that has been connecting us for many years, and we reaffirm our support for the implementation of the Southern Gas Corridor project. Azerbaijan plays a decisive role in the implementation of this project for the development of sources and routes of gas supply, as well as its real diversification in Southern and Central Europe. We confirmed mutual interest in the development of transport and gas corridors between Asia and Europe," Rumen Radev said after the meeting.

In addition, according to him, Azerbaijan is ready, together with the Bulgarian structures, to cooperate in the sphere of gasification of the domestic sector of Bulgaria, as well as the development of a network of filling stations in Bulgaria

He also called good news the readiness of Azerbaijan to open the first flight between Sofia and Baku from January 1, 2018. This coincides with the transition of the EU presidency to Bulgaria, he said.

"Azerbaijani gas will play a role in resolving the issues of Bulgaria's energy security," President Ilham Aliyev in turn stated.

At the same time he pointed out that Bulgaria is a participant of the "Southern Gas Corridor" project.

This is a giant transnational project. The financial component of the "Southern Gas Corridor" is 40 billion dollars, and this project unites seven countries. Gas from the Azerbaijani Shahdeniz field will be delivered to the countries of Europe, the countries of the region, including Bulgaria. I am confident that Azerbaijani gas will play a role in resolving the issues of Bulgaria's energy security," Aliyev said.

He also indicated that the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will be commissioned in the near future. "This is also a historic project, and I am confident that Bulgaria will also actively participate in this project. This project will open new opportunities for all countries, including for the countries located along the railway," Aliyev said. 06B-

Washington event: Activists, rights defenders, urge international institutions to insure Azeri public benefit from oil-gas projects

Leading international environmental and human rights campaigners, as well as activists and politicians from Azerbaijan on Thursday urged global financial institutions to increase pressure on Azeri regime to ensure the public will benefit from projects that are financed with international public money, Turan's Washington correspondent reports.

The oil-rich post Soviet country with poor human rights records has recently

been suspended from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a global initiative promoting good practice in the oil and gas sector.

Yet it last month managed to renew a contract with international consortium to develop the country's biggest fields by a quarter of a century to 2050 in a move to unlock billions of dollars of fresh investments in the Caspian Sea deposits.

"This raises many questions about the autocratic regimes' ability to win funding from international funders despite committing endless human rights abuses back at home," said Human Rights Watch's Rachel Denber during a roundtable discussion on the impacts of the Southern Gas Corridor on corruption, human rights and sustainability in Azerbaijan.

The question is, she added, how international investments in this multi-billion mega project entrench corruption and human rights violations in Azerbaijan, impoverish local communities, and inhibit the timely transition to a renewable energy portfolio.

"Who is this project really benefiting?" she asked.

The event, organized by environmental and human rights organizations Crude Accountability and International Accountability Project, highlighted additional questions on how international financial institutions (IFIs) can promote good governance, participation, and sustainability when working in restrictive environments like Azerbaijan.

Among the panelists there were two speakers from Azerbaijan : Gubad Ibadoglu, EITI's borad member, and Tofig Yagublu, Musavat Party's deputy-chairman.

In his speech Ibadoglu mentioned that even a month after the signing of ACG extension project, the deal "hasn't been made public yet."

Speaking on domestic politics in Azerbaijan, Yagublu said, for years the country's civil society and human rights defenders have experienced constant and increasing pressure: ​​Lack of fair elections, omnipresent corruption, large-scale human rights violations, have become emblematic of the problems. This however, hasn't prevented international oil firms, funders and western democracies from supporting the authoritarian regime.

Danber added that activists targeted by the Aliyev government included independent groups working to promote transparency of public revenues; they were denied access to finance.

The government froze numerous local and international NGOs" bank accounts and used legislative provisions adopted earlier to ban the groups from seeking and receiving funds from foreign donors.

For Crude Accountability's Sonia Zilberman, the tightening of the screws on civil society in Azerbaijan restricts civic monitoring of these lending operations.

"There is a lot of fear coming from the communities... What we had been able to document in Azerbaijan shows that local people have no idea that there is public international money from IFIs coming in; they do not even understand what IFIs are," she said.

Respondents that Crude Accountability interviewed in Azerbaijan "have said that nothing has improved since the Shahdeniz project has expended," she added.

A.Raufoglu

Washington, D.C.

European Festival of Tolerance Launched

Baku / 13.10.17 / Turan: The opening of the European Festival of Tolerance "Imagine" was held in Baku on Friday. At the opening ceremony, the head of the European Union representation in Azerbaijan Kestutis Jankauskas noted that within a week Baku will become a center of tolerance.

Within the framework of the festival, which takes place from 12 to 20 October, there will be presentations and discussions of 34 documentaries, concerts, performances and debates on various topics.

The festival opened with a documentary film "Fuocoammare" by Italian director Gianfranco Rossi. The tape is dedicated to refugees who left their homes because of the war in the Middle East and rushed to Europe.

The Festival of Tolerance is dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the Rome Agreement and organized by the EU Delegation, as well as the Embassies of Switzerland, Norway, Peru, Israel, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba and Brazil in Azerbaijan. -71D-

Prosecutors Office investigates the complaint of the former investigator on torture in the jail

Baku / 13.10.17 / Turan: The Khazar district prosecutor's office has launched an investigation into the complaint of the convicted Rufat Safarov to torture in jail N 9, according to his lawyer Bahruz Bayramov. The defense states that Safarov was tortured by the warders of the jail, and then was imprisoned in a punishment cell for ten days on September 22. This happened after he went on a hunger strike, protesting against violations of their rights in this jail. In this regard, the lawyer asked the prosecutor's office to investigate the facts of torture and inhuman treatment of Safarov.

A representative of the prosecutor's office visited the jail and took testimony from Safarov.

* R. Safarov was an investigator of the Zardab district prosecutor's office. On December 20, 2015, he made a statement on lawlessness in law enforcement and resigned. In late December of the same year, a lawsuit was filed against Safarov on charges of taking bribes. In September 2016, the Lankaran Court for Serious Crimes condemned Safarov for 9 years of imprisonment.

Rufat Safarov is the son of Eldar Sabiroglu, a former deputy from NAP, and former head of the press service of the Defense Ministry.-05B06-

The courts do not release the arrested oppositionists

Baku / 13.10.17 / Turan: The Baku Court of Appeal refused to release four members of the PFPA, arrested before the rally of the opposition on October 7. In addition, the Sumgait Court of Appeal rejected the complaint of lawyers of activist Jabbar Savalan, lawyer Asabali Mustafayev said.

The Baku Court of Appeal dismissed the complaints of Fuzuli Huseynov, Ruslan Nasirov, Yalchin Abdullayev and Magerram Rzaev.

PFPA members said that their arrest was groundless and asked the court to release them.

Both vessels passed in the usual way: none of the applications was granted, the lawyer said.

On October 7, the National Council held a rally in Baku during which the PFPA leader Ali Kerimli said that a total of about 200 activists were summoned to the police. In spite of the fact that the action was authorised, five activists were detained and subjected to administrative arrest for 10 to 30 days "for violation of public order". -05B04-

The term of pre-trial arrest of Afgan Mukhtarli extended until December 19

Baku / 13.10.17 / Turan: Nasimi district court of Baku considered the proposal of the prosecutor's office to extend the term of preventive punishment in the form of arrest of journalist Afgan Mukhtarli for 2 months. The court partially granted the proposal of the prosecutor's office and extended the term of arrest for 1 month 20 days - until December 19, lawyer Zibaida Sadigova said. Protection will appeal this decision to the Court of Appeal.

* Mukhtarli was kidnapped on May 29 in Tbilisi and brought to Azerbaijan, where he was charged under three Articles of the Criminal Code: 315 (resistance to a representative of the authority with the use of force), 318.1 (illegal border crossing) and 206.1 (smuggling). Afgan Mukhtarly denies the charges, saying at the trial that his arrest is a political order. -03B06-