Azerbaijan

Restrictions on political freedoms and violations against opposition continue ahead of early Parliamentary elections

(Parliament of Azerbaijan) Source: European Parliament, Flickr

 

Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS) has carried out the long-term observation of 9 February 2020 early Parliamentary Elections.

EMDS notes, in comparison with the last Parliamentary elections in 2015 there is an increase in political activeness prior to the current elections due to a large number of independent candidates joining the race. However, the restrictions brought on the enjoyment of political freedoms, notably freedom of peaceful assembly and association, freedom of speech are not eliminated, and this tendency has negatively affected the democratic principles of the current election.

EMDS regretfully notes that the current Election Code, of which restrictive provisions, including the short period of time for the campaign period, undermine the genuineness of competitive environment,  has not been advanced based on the joint recommendations put forward by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe on the eve of the upcoming Parliamentary election.

EMDS has observed numerous violations of law during the period of nomination and registration of candidates noting that this has been characteristic to all parliamentary elections held since 2005. Mostly, those violations happened against the opposition party members and independent candidates who have been intimidated and pressured by local executive authorities, election commissions or places where they work to withdraw their candidacies.

EMDS reiterates that the pressure made against election participants and the practice of abusing administrative resources in favor of some candidates must end in the next period of elections and legal measures must be taken to hold the representatives of executive authorities responsible for violating the laws.

EMDS recommends that the investigation of the complaints on elections should be comprehensive and happen with the presence of the candidates or their representatives. Moreover, not only the national legislation but also the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights on violation of electoral rights should be taken into account.

Read the full report here

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