Freedom House Documents Human Rights Abuses in Azerbaijan

"The print media in Azerbaijan are subject to censorship and other forms of harassment." (Source: Nations In Transit 1998: Civil Society–Democracy and Markets in East Central Europe and the Newly Independent States–Freedom House–February 1999–p. 87)

WASHINGTON–Freedom House–leading international human rights organization recently issued its report on Azerbaijan–as published in "Nations In Transit 1998: Civil Society–Democracy and Markets in East Central Europe and the Newly Independent States." In it–the organization outlines severe human rights abuses in Azerbaijan. Below are excerpts from that report. A copy of the full report may be obtained on the Internet at http://www.nff.org/nit98/azer.pdf *The October 3 [1998 presidential election of Haydar Aliyev] was declared "undemocratic" by international observers… The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) found the balloting [in the 1995 parliamentary elections] to be "not free and fair," while the Council of Europe characterized it as marred by "irregularities and clear cases of fraud." (p. 83) *Opposition parties have been harassed and their leaders have been detained. Some public demonstrations have been forcibly stopped by the police. (p. 86) *Police often conduct searches without warran’s. Arbitrary arrests without legal warrant occur… There have been persistent reports of political prisoners and other detainees being beaten and abused. (p. 91) *According to a report by the non-partisan Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan–there were 900 political prisoners at the end of December 1997. (p. 91) *A business survey by Control Risk–a British management firm–rated Azerbaijan the third-most corrupt country in the world. (p. 94) *In January 1998–the Turkish government released its "Sussurluk Report" on corruption within the Turkish development aid to Azerbaijan. The assistance funds were used to build the luxury Avrupa Hotel–which was then deeded to a Turkish organized crime group in order to pay off gambling debts incurred by a family member. (p. 93) *There is little real protection for property rights–and predatory practices by government agencies and powerful criminal organizations are common. (p. 98)

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