France, Strasburg, 24 April /corr. Trend A.Maherremli, I.Alizade / The Council of Europe's Committee of Representatives called upon Azerbaijan to increase the level of preparedness for Presidential elections which will take place in mid of October and hold the elections in accordance with the European norms and standards. "The Council of Europe's Action Plan, which envisages assisting in preparations for the elections, says that Azerbaijan soon needs to adopt a Law on changes and additions to its Electoral Code," mentioned during the next meeting of the Committee of Representatives in Strasburg on 24 April where the initial discussions were held on the report as a result of the visit of AGO Monitoring Group to Azerbaijan on 2-4 April, a source at Azerbaijan representation to the Council of Europe said.
While joining the Council of Europe in 2001, Azerbaijan undertook several obligations. The Monitoring Group was established to control fulfillment of the obligations.
The members of AGO Group stated that during their visit to Azerbaijan, they paid special attention to the issues of electoral legislation and practice, freedom of expression and press, as well as problems of people who are considered political prisoners.
The Chairman of AGO Group stated that during their visit to Azerbaijan, they investigated the works on upcoming presidential elections due on 15 October 2008. In addition, he spoke about the negotiations between the Government of Azerbaijan and Venice Commission regarding the adoption of a new Electoral Code. The Chairman of the Group said that Azerbaijan's Law on Freedom of Assembly has already coordinated with the Venice Commission and the initial project satisfies both the Government of Azerbaijan and Venice Commission. Both documents are expected to be adopted in the beginning of May.
In addition, it was stated that the agenda includes the issue of devising a project of Law on Alternative Service in Azerbaijan in accordance with the European standards. The report says that the concerns about imprisoned people, who are considered as political prisoners, show importance of settling this issue. At the same time, the report highly appreciated the fact that in December 2007 the President of Azerbaijan issued a pardoning order which gave freedom to six imprisoned journalists. In addition, the report highlighted a wish to release three more imprisoned journalists.
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