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Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Tuesday, 30 April 2013 (Afternoon)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is intended for use of the information media and is not an official record. The note provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review and does not cover all points addressed. An official summary of the meeting can be found in the Working Group report.)

State under review

Azerbaijan
Represented by 17-member delegation headed by Mr. Khalaf Khalafov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Azerbaijan  page on the UPR website.

Troika *

Maldives, Libya, Peru.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Azerbaijan page on the UPR Extranet)

  • Azerbaijan was party to the core international treaties which, according to the Constitution, prevailed over national legislation;
  • The head of delegation informed that two weeks ago there Azerbaijan’s second periodic report was considered by the Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers admits third periodic report will be presented to the CESCR on three days;
  • Azerbaijan conduced on-going cooperation with the UN Special Procedures and has been receiving all mandate holders, the most recent of which was the Special Rapporteur on the right to health in May 2012;
  • The National Action Programme on human rights was adopted in 2001 and covered the issues reflected in the recommendations posed to Azerbaijan during its first UPR; the working group which coordinated the implementation of the Programme submitted reports on its activities to the President on a regular basis;
  • As a result of the State programme on social and economic development, more than 1.1 million jobs were created in the country, with 30,000 jobs in the first quarter of this year; in the course of the last seven years more than 35,000 new enterprises were created in Azerbaijan, a significant portion of them created in regions with compact settlement of national minorities;
  • In May 2010 the Republic of Azerbaijan acceded to the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions for which the Government was elaborating an action plan;
  • The fight against corruption was one of the State's priorities and the Government continues to carry out focused and consistent measures in this field including the formation of the “National Action Plan for 2012-2015 on fight against corruption”;
  • In 2011, the National Action Plan for 2012-2015 on promotion of the open government was adopted and the Action Plan on information and communication technologies was adopted in 2013 which envisaged a greater use of such technologies in the electoral process [the delegation later noted that Presidential elections were scheduled for later this year];  
  • The Law on fight against domestic violence was passed in 2010 and the Family Code was amended in accordance with this Law raising the minimal age of eligibility for marriage, for both men and women, at 18 years;
  • One of the major goals of the State Programme for 2008-2015 on eradication of poverty and sustainable development was to enlarge participation of women in the decision-making process before the end of 2015;
  • Large-scale reforms were also conducted in the system of justice; for the first time in the history of Azerbaijan the administrative-economic courts were established in the seven regions, and the system of the military courts was reformed as well;
  • The head of delegation also noted that the number of judges doubled during the reporting period.

Participants

In total 77 States participated in the dialogue:  29 HRC members and 48 observers  (Statements available on Azerbaijan page on the UPR Extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • Accession to several international treaties, including the OPCAT and the CRPD;
  • Policies and programmes in place to combat corruption and to enhance transparency in State bodies;
  • The laws on education and education reform measures;
  • Measures taken to combat violence against women and acceding to the European Convention on anti-trafficking;
  • Steps taken to foster gender equality;
  • The formation of the National Action Programme on human rights.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Steps to fully guarantee freedom of assembly and expression;
  • Measures to address acts of intimidation or harassment against human rights defenders and the media;
  • Action taken to reform defamation legislation to bring it in line with international standards;
  • Efforts taken to ensure transparency and to advance the rule of law;
  • Steps to investigate cases of torture independently and impartially;
  • Measures to combat violence against women and children.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Azerbaijan.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To take steps to fully guarantee freedom of assembly and expression and ensure that related obligations were implemented consistently and transparently and to ensure that the media and civil society were able to work freely and without restrictions or intimidation;
  • To investigate and prosecute all incidents of harassment against journalists and human rights defenders; To release individuals incarcerated for publicly expressing their opinions and ensure due process for other detainees;
  • To enhance consultations with civil society on human rights matters, including on anti-corruption legislation;
  • To refrain from imposing excessive fines on media outlets for defamation; To reform defamation legislation to bring it in line with Article 19 of the ICCPR and to investigate all incidents of intimation and violence against journalists;
  • To continue judicial reforms to guarantee the full independence of the judiciary and to strengthen the rule of law;
  • To ensure all cases of torture were independently and impartially investigated and to hold perpetrators accountable;
  • To redouble efforts to intensify human rights education and training of law enforcement officers, teachers and civil servants;
  • To formulate a national action plan to further ensure women’s rights, including on combating violence against women; To adopt and implement the law on Protection of Children and the law on Prohibition of Corporal Punishment of Children;
  • To further enhance gender equality through appropriate administrative and legal measures;
  • To increase efforts and resources towards strengthening the health-care system in rural areas;
  • To extend a standing invitation to UN Special Procedures;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the Convention on enforced disappearances, the Rome Statute on the ICC, and the 3rd OP to the CRC.

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Azerbaijan is scheduled to take place on Thursday, 2 May 2013.

The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR. 

Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org

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