Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Azerbaijan
Strasbourg, 31.05.2011 – The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) today published a new report on Azerbaijan. ECRI’s Chair, Nils Muiznieks, said that, while there have been improvements, there are still concerns in some areas, such as the situation of unregistered religious groups and of persons seeking international protection.
To simplify administrative procedures affecting migrant workers, a State Migration Service has been established and a one-stop service point for migrants has been set up. The authorities are also drawing up a Migration Code to consolidate the relevant legislation. Measures have been taken to improve refugees’ access to social rights and the authorities have begun working to remedy problems faced by stateless persons. Significant efforts have been made in recent years to improve the living conditions of displaced persons, as well as their access to other social rights. The authorities have also taken steps towards improving access to health care for persons belonging to vulnerable groups.
At the same time, some restrictive provisions and practices with respect to religious communities have been tightened and religious communities whose applications for re-registration are still pending are exposed to arbitrary treatment. There are reports of abuse by law-enforcement officials against members of minority groups and there should be an independent mechanism for dealing with complaints against the police.
The rate of recognition of refugees is extremely low and no subsidiary form of protection is recognised in Azerbaijani law, leaving many persons who need it in a precarious situation. Migrant workers remain vulnerable to illegal employment practices and serious forms of abuse. Further measures are needed to remedy the difficulties faced by displaced persons in daily life. Finally, anti-discrimination legislation remains little known and rarely used, and the application of provisions of the Criminal Code regarding national security and the prohibition of ethnic hostility remains a concern.
In its report, ECRI has made a number of recommendations, among which the following three require priority implementation and will be revisited in two years’ time:
swiftly complete the registration of religious communities and clarify the legal situation of communities still awaiting the final outcome in their cases; complete the process of adopting a Migration Code; establish a system for collecting data broken down by criteria coming within ECRI’s mandate, so as to detect and combat discrimination within the judicial system.
The report, including Government observations, is available here. It was prepared following ECRI’s contact visit to Azerbaijan in September 2010 [Press Release – 05.10.2010] and takes account of developments up to December 2010.
ECRI is a human rights body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts, which monitors problems of racism, discrimination on grounds of ethnic origin, citizenship, religion and language, as well as xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance, prepares reports and issues recommendations to member States.