Azerbaijan, Baku / March 2 / corr Trend K.Zarbaliyeva
Council of Europe (CE) Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg who is on a visit to Azerbaijan, gave an exclusive interview to Trend .
Trend : You will focus on three specific areas while in Azerbaijan. What is the reason for that?
Hammarberg: I have been in Azerbaijan a few years earlier and the evaluation report has been developed on the results of the visit. The report that was posted on our Web site displayed information on all vital areas which we believe are important from human rights standpoint. The purpose of this visit is to assess the progress and changes that have occurred in several specific areas. One of these issues is the freedom and independence of media, including the creation of conditions for pluralism in media in order to ensure different voices. The second issue is related to the activities of the judicial system. Speaking about this system, we are referring to police and law enforcement agencies. In general, we have a three-tiered approach in this system. First, it is law enforcement, second it is the courts, including judges and prosecutors and third it is the penitentiary system, which contains pre-and post-trial detainees. Speaking about the monitoring of this system, we mean the activities of these three stages.
Q: How do you assess the implementation of the Action Plan for Human Rights in Azerbaijan? What progress has been made in this area since your last visit?
A: The Action Plan is a good document. First, the value of the plan depends on the level at which it is executed. Therefore, the issues that are addressed in this plan and cover the important areas of human rights should be implemented. Human right is an important problem. Special attention should be given to it. If human rights and socio-economic rights are ensured, it would mean the development of society. Therefore, I welcome the adoption of the Action Plan and consider its implementation important. I am ready to cooperate with Azerbaijan in this sphere.
Q: More than 4,000 Azerbaijanis went missing during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This issue was raised during your recent visit to Baku. What effective measures can CE take in connection to this?
A: All issues related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were raised during our visit. We are discussing these problems during visits to Armenia also. Naturally, we do not interfere in the process of conflict resolution. The OSCE Minsk Group deals with this conflict. OSCE MG Co-chair countries are seeking political solutions to the conflict. As of the events that took place there, we discuss issues related to the dead and missing persons from both sides, as well as with representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Unfortunately, we do not have accurate information in connection with this problem.
Q: More than a million Azerbaijanis have become refugees and internally displaced persons as a result of the occupation of Azerbaijani lands by Armenia. What mechanisms can be put into effect in the CE for the restoration of their rights?
A: We pay attention to two aspects of this problem. First, the existing situation in this sphere and the living conditions of IDPs. We are aware of the great progress that the country has achieved in this direction. The Azerbaijani government removed the tent cities where they lived earlier and their social situation has improved considerably. Another aspect of the problem is the realization of the rights of IDPs and their returning to their native land. However, the solution of this right has not been realized. Everyone should understand that this bright may be restored with political will, which, in turn, will lead to the normalization of the situation. It is for this reason that the negotiations include not only political but also humanitarian aspects of the problem. It should be noted that the co-chair countries - the United States, France and Russia - are asking us to remain aloof from the process of conflict resolution. They have undertaken the task of resolving the conflict.
Q: How do you assess the investigation carried out on the events in Armenia, March 1, 2008? Do you plan to visit Armenia in the near future?
A: I have paid several visits to Armenia and discussed this issue with the government. About the March 1 events, the investigation has not been clear in this matter and this causes concern. I closely follow this matter. Other CE structures also keep the issue under control. In 2010, I intend to visit Armenia, however, I can not name the exact date.
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