Environment for Civil Society of Azerbaijan Continues to Worsen

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Xəbərin tarixi: 2017-08-11 19:35:24

In 2016 political freedoms in Azerbaijan remained extremely limited. The government continued to arrest activists and persecute critics of the authorities using social networks to organize protest actions. This is stated in the report released today, The Index of Sustainable Development of Civil Society Organizations 2015 - Azerbaijan, prepared by USAID on the basis of an expert poll.

In 2016, a referendum was held on amendments to the Constitution, as a result of which the term of office of the head of state was increased from 5 to 7 years and the post of First Vice-President was introduced.

Activists of civil society challenged the compliance of the amendments with the international democratic standards. Five activists appealed in this connection to the Council of Europe.

It also points out the continuation of the criminal case against NGOs, which were already forced to significantly restrict their activities.

The status of Azerbaijan in the International Open Government Initiative was deactivated.

The deterioration of the civil society atmosphere occurred against the backdrop of economic problems caused by the decline in world oil prices.

The rating of the "legal environment" of NGOs remained at the level of 6.4 points on the 7-point system.

There are problems with registration of NGOs. No international donor or NGOs have been able to update the registration under the new procedure.

The rating on "organizational possibilities" criteria is lowered from 5.7 to 5.9.

So, due to lack of funding, about two thirds of NGOs were forced to curtail or seriously limit their activities due to a lack of funds to pay their staff, maintain their offices and provide other expenses.

Accordingly, the rating of financial opportunities fell from 6.3 to 6.5. At the same time, it was noted that state funds were the only source of funding for NGOs.

The rating of "public advocacy" has slightly improved, making 5.8 against 5.9.

So, despite the attempt to introduce censorship against the activities of NGOs, activists often use social media for the public advocacy.

At the same time, the authorities created more favorable conditions for pro-government NGOs.

The indicator of the "public image" of civil society also deteriorated - 5.8 versus 5.7 in 2015. This is due to the continuing formation of a negative atmosphere around NGOs, representing them as a "fifth column".

The overall index of sustainable development of civil society organizations in the country in 2016 was 5.9, having worsened as compared to 2014 (5.8).