Azerbaijan: Rule 9.2 communication to the Committee of Ministers of the CoE (Ramazanova group of cases)

International Partnership for Human Rights filed a Rule 9.2 communication to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in the Ramazanova group of cases (application no. 44363/02). In our submission we argue that, in view of the legal standards set by the European Court of Human Rights and notwithstanding changes introduced in the domestic legislation we urge the Committee of Ministers (“CM”) to increase its emphasis on this group of cases and examine it under enhanced supervision.

The document includes IPHR’s assessment of the infringements at issue in the Ramazanova Group of Cases and the general measures that must be taken in light of the challenging situation for the civil society in Azerbaijan.

Under Rule 9.2 National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) have a possibility to report to the CM on the ECtHR case judgements. Considering that some of ECtHR judgments are not fully implemented, such communications allow civil society organisation to provide the Committee with a full picture on developments on the ground. Thus, they play an important role in the execution process.

Taking this opportunity, we call upon the Committee of Ministers to review the Ramazanova Group of Cases under enhanced supervision and to recommend that the Azeri Government:

  • with respect to the registration system, repeals the additional and discretional requirements for the registration of branches of foreign NGOs; remedy unreasonably long delays, multiple return of documents due to deficiencies and uncertainties regarding the refusal or acceptance of registration; and eliminate unjustified unequal treatment of non-commercial entities and commercial entities, ideally extend the registration process for commercial entities to non-commercial entities (public associations, foundations, unions of legal entities, religious organizations);
  • facilitates access to funding for NGOs, in particular repeal registration and permit requirements for grants, donations and other material support, including income from entrepreneurial activities – control over grants, donations and other financial assistance received by non-commercial legal entities can be effectively regulated by the tax authority’s current income reporting system; and repeal the reporting requirements with respect to the amount of donations and identity of donors;
  • repeals excessively burdensome reporting requirements of NGOs, in particular with respect to changes in factual circumstances;
  • with respect to the system of administrative penalties, eliminates punitive sanctions and unjustified unequal treatment of non-commercial entities and commercial entities, in particular repeal Articles 432, 465, 466, 579, 580, 581 and 582 of the Code of Administrative Offenses and instead introduce a new article on the violation of the NGO Law providing for reasonable and scaled sanctions for a limited number of illegal actions;