BAKU DOES NOT ACCEPT US CRITICISM ON SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS IN AZERBAIJAN

Trend News Agency
May 29 2008
Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan, Baku, 29 May / corr. TrendNews I. Alizade/ The Azerbaijani
government does not accept the criticism of the State Department
of the United States on deterioration of the situation of the human
rights in Azerbaijan.

"I can not accept the criticism on the human rights in Azerbaijan
as this criticism is based on the isolates facts which occur in
any country worldwide," Elnur Aslanov, the head of the Political
Analysis and Dataware Department of the Presidential Administration
of Azerbaijan said to TrendNews.

The US State Department published a report on human rights in
Azerbaijan on 28 May. The report said that the situation of the human
rights deteriorated in Azerbaijan in 2007. The report also spoke of
the presidential elections to be held in Azerbaijan in October.

"We have repeatedly announced that the presidential elections will
be transparent, open and democratic, said Aslanov.

According to Aslanov, the indicators of Azerbaijan are improved every
year. "It concerns both economic and political spheres. Recently, we
have taken important steps on the development of the civil society in
Azerbaijan and we have been promoting the role of the 'third sector'
in the social life of the government. Conditions have been provided
for the development of the media sources, the number of which makes
up 600 at present. The civil rights and freedoms are priorities of
the government," Aslanov said.

The report of the State Department said that there is still torture
in police departments and military units with six people dying as a
result of it in 2007. "The security forces who stand behind it, are not
punished," the document said. "The officials are detained on political
motives. There is corruption in the judicial system and restrictions on
the freedom of assembly. The situation of the mass media has further
deteriorated. The violation against women and religious minorities
is still going on. In spite o some progress, the prisons are still
source of danger for the human life," the document said.

According to Aslanov, the regulations on holding demonstration are
the same with that of the other countries where it is banned to hold
demonstrations in places with much traffic and people. "It is quite
natural. However, the parliament will discuss new Bill on Freedom of
Assembly, therefore it is pointless to speak of the restrictions,"
he said.

He said that he is surprised with the statement of the report on the
violation against women and religious minorities. "It is not true at
all. There is no violation against women in Azerbaijan," Aslanov said.

He added that he also does not accept the criticism on the religious
minorities. "There are some 500 registered religious groups in
Azerbaijan which openly exercise their rights and devotions. Azerbaijan
is a tolerant country. The tolerance of Azerbaijan is annually
indicated in the reports of the international organizations, the fact
which can not concern neighboring countries," he said.

"I also do not accept the statement that 'the security forces are not
punished," the representative of the official Baku said. According to
Aslanov, some 443 officers of the Interior Ministry of Azerbaijan
who have violated human rights have been punished during three
years. Some 16 of them were made answerable, 98 were dismissed from
the Interior Ministry, five were demoted and 39 were dismissed from
their posts. Therefore, these statements do not reflect reality,"
Aslanov added.

"It is disappointing that the report does not include any statement
on the rights of refugees and IDPs, which was grossly violated as a
result of the occupational policy of Armenia. I think that the report
should have reminded of 1mln refugees who are deprived of the right
to return to their homelands. If we speak of the human rights, it is
important to speak of the facts. Millions of refugees, whose rights
have been violated by the neighbor country, are a concrete fact of
violation of human rights by the other country," he said.

As to the penitentiaries of Azerbaijan, Aslanov said that they are
under public monitoring of not only national, but also international
organizations. "There is no such monitoring in the prisons of other
countries where people accused with committing crimes are kept there
for years," Aslanov said.