<<previous  | index  |  next>>


To the Azerbaijan government:

  • Establish, with the cooperation of opposition political parties and the international community, an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the widespread and credible allegations of fraudulent practices during the October 2003 presidential elections. The commission must include representatives of the opposition and the international community. Its proceedings must be transparent and its findings made public.
  • Investigate allegations of physical abuse and torture, particularly at the Organized Crime Unit of the Ministry of Interior, and police stations in Baku, Zagatala, Quba, and Khadjmaz. The investigations must be carried out in a competent, independent and impartial manner, and officials found implicated in torture or physical abuse must be disciplined or prosecuted as appropriate.

  • Conduct an independent review of the Organized Crime Unit of the Ministry of Interior and make it subject to outside supervision by a civilian review panel, to ensure that its staff is held accountable for acts of torture and ill-treatment.

  • Provide training to all members of the security forces on international and domestic human rights standards; members of the security forces should be held accountable for deviations from these standards. This program should pay special attention to inter alia, the problems of torture and ill-treatment, unlawful and arbitrary detentions, and proper professional conduct. It should convey a clear explanation to all security officials of what acts constitute torture. Ensure independent oversight of all detention facilities to monitor torture and other human rights abuses.
  • Immediately review the cases of all remaining detainees arrested on suspicion of involvement in the October 15 and 16 violence. Investigate allegations of torture and abuse against these detainees. Release unconditionally all detainees against whom no specific evidence of illegal activities exists.
  • Carry out an investigation into the excessive use of force by the police, military, and other security services during October 15 and 16. Bring security officials who used excessive force to account. Mechanisms should be instituted to allow victims of security force violence to come forward without fear of retaliation.
  • End the abuse of administrative detention procedures, and ensure that all persons arrested and detained have the right to all fair trial guarantees, including access to legal representation and to be formally charged.
  • Immediately reinstate all persons fired from their positions because of their political activities. End job discrimination against members of the political opposition, and issue clear instructions to government officials that such discrimination is an abuse of authority and will be punished in accordance with the law.
  • Create a political climate free of violence and intimidation for all political parties.
  • Stop repressive actions and intimidation against the political opposition and opposition journalists, such as the closure of opposition offices, and harassment of opposition journalists and newspaper vendors.
  • Ensure that the judiciary is independent of the other branches of government.
  • Undertake local government reform required by the Council of Europe.

To the international community, including the OSCE, the Council of Europe, and governments of Europe and the United States:

  • Strongly condemn and demand an end to the abuses committed in Azerbaijan, including the failure to allow fair campaigning conditions, election day fraud, post-election violence, impunity for police abuse, pressure of election officials and monitors, unlawful arrests of opposition supporters, use of torture and physical abuse, abuse of administrative detention procedures, dismissals of opposition employees, arbitrary detention of opposition leaders, and the general climate of repression faced by the opposition.
  • Consistently and publicly condemn any further abuses committed by the Azerbaijani authorities, such as refusals to allow political opposition rallies, reprisals against the media, and any acts of political repression. The international community should stand united in demanding greater respect for freedom of assembly, association, and expression in Azerbaijan.
  • Call for, and participate in, an independent commission of inquiry with international participation to investigate the election violations and the post-election abuses that occurred during the 2003 presidential elections; a national commission of inquiry, without international participation, would not be credible.
  • Demand an immediate, transparent review of the detention of all remaining persons arrested after the October 15 elections, and the release of all persons against whom no direct evidence of involvement in illegal activities exists. Establish a trial monitoring program for any prosecutions arising out of the October 15-16 events, and ensure that credible allegations of torture and confessions gathered under torture are reviewed by the judiciary.
  • Demand an immediate end to torture and physical abuse by security forces, and a transparent and independent investigation into the allegations of endemic torture at the Organized Crime Unit of the Ministry of Interior. If torture or other human rights abuses have been committed, demand that the responsible authorities are brought to account.
  • Demand that all persons who were dismissed from their work because of opposition activities, or because of the opposition activities of their relatives, are reinstated. In order to end endemic job discrimination, ensure that international assistance programs have monitoring mechanisms to prevent job discrimination against opposition members.
  • In light of the failure of Azerbaijani authorities to respond adequately to abuses committed by its officials, ensure that victims of government abuses have access to embassies and international organizations in order to report incidents of abuse, and that follow-up mechanisms exist to raise such abuses with the authorities and demand remedial action.
  • Promote the creation of an independent judiciary.

  • The OSCE should lead a review of the international community’s recent effort to ensure free and fair presidential elections in Azerbaijan. In view of the fact that the Azerbaijani presidential elections were widely manipulated despite years of international efforts to end mass election fraud, and one of the largest OSCE/ODIHR election missions ever deployed, international organizations with representation in Azerbaijan should review the effectiveness—or lack thereof—of their election monitoring mechanisms.

In addition,

  • The European Union and the United States government should closely monitor any funding provided to the Azerbaijani government, particularly security-related funding and anti-terrorism funding, to ensure that it does not go towards security agencies implicated in torture. Ensure that all security-related and anti-terrorism funding has a human rights training component, and monitoring mechanisms to prevent torture and other human rights abuses.
  • The Council of Europe should inform the Azerbaijani delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly that they risk suspension of their credentials should Azerbaijan fail to remedy the abuses detailed in this report and make adequate progress in meeting its Council of Europe commitments.
  • The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) should continue to monitor closely torture in Azerbaijan, particularly by the OCU, and should consider conducting an ad-hoc visit to the country in 2004.
  • The World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) should make political reform to promote independence of the judiciary, and to strengthen parliament and local government, prominent elements of their country assistance strategies. When assessing Azerbaijan’s compliance with Article 1 of the Agreement establishing the Bank, the EBRD should make clear that the nature and level of engagement will be contingent on measurable progress in human rights. The EBRD should set specific benchmarks for such progress, building on the recommendations presented in this report and by other authoritative sources.

<<previous  |  index  |  next>>

January 2004