The international human rights organization has published a traditional report on the state of freedoms in the countries of the world. The report evaluates the level of freedoms on several parameters: political rights and civil liberties; Internet freedom, level of democratic governance. According to the first parameter, Azerbaijan is included in the number of non-free countries.
This section assesses people’s access to political rights and civil liberties in 210 countries and territories. Individual freedoms – from the right to vote to freedom of expression and equality before the law.
The second section assesses the level of Internet freedom in 70 countries around the world. Here Azerbaijan is also among the not free countries. The third section measures the level of democratic governance in 29 countries from Central Europe to Central Asia. The Democracy Score includes ratings for national governance, the electoral process, independent media, civil society, the judiciary, and the level of corruption.
According to the third point, Azerbaijan is ranked among the countries where there is a consolidated authoritarian regime. “Azerbaijan is ruled by an authoritarian regime controlled by one family, the Aliyevs, who have been in power for almost three decades. While occasionally taking action to appease Western critics, the government has never implemented structural reforms,” the report notes.
The extremely limited environment in which independent media operate in Azerbaijan has become even more repressive. Amendments to the media law now allow authorities to prosecute social media users for expressing opinions online.
Corruption remains ubiquitous, despite several high-profile anti-corruption operations by the security services in 2020. The entire political elite of Azerbaijan got rich by abusing their power for personal gain. They also used the country’s oil wealth to buy influence abroad.
Internet freedom in Azerbaijan has deteriorated and the state still controls the information and communication technology sector. Infrastructural problems that did little to improve made Internet connectivity low and out of reach for many.
Those who express dissent online can face harassment if they reside in Azerbaijan and risk intimidation by the authorities and pro-government trolls. Thus, dozens of activists were prosecuted for online criticism of government policies, anti-war sentiment and other activities. Independent journalists continued to face harassment from law enforcement and the State Security Service.