UN Special Rapporteur Reminds Azerbaijani Media of Prohibition of Any Form of Incitement to Religious Hatred
Azerbaijan, Baku /corr Trend E.Huseynov / In her report, the UN Special Rapporteur Asma Jahangir, stresses that Azerbaijan is a country where there is generally a high level of religious tolerance and, despite there being an overwhelming majority of Muslims, real religious harmony.
The report was officially presented to the 4th session of the UN Council of Human Rights in Geneva. She notes that Azerbaijan generally respects the right to freedom of religion or belief but that this respect is not uniformly observed in all regions of Azerbaijan. The Special Rapporteur has indeed noticed that, in some cases, the authorities may have blurred the line that distinguishes facilitation of religious freedoms from control.
In particular, certain situations related to the different aspects of this control have resulted in actual limitations of the right to freedom of religion of religious communities: difficulties in registration, restriction on religious literature, methods of appointment of clergy or other obstacles for non-registered religious communities.
In a few cases, the control exercised by the authorities has unfortunately been transformed into real forms of persecution. In this regard, the Special Rapporteur is particularly concerned that, because of fear, some religious communities were reluctant to meet her. The Special Rapporteur stresses the responsibility of the media and draws attention to the relevant provisions of international law that prohibit any form of incitement to religious hatred, such as article 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
To address these concerns as well as other related human rights, the Special Rapporteur
emphasizes that the existence of effective, independent and impartial administrative and judicial
mechanisms are of crucial importance.
While she is aware about the difficulties that Azerbaijan has faced during this transition period, the Special Rapporteur strongly encourages the Government, as well as the other actors in the society, to work towards the strengthening of institutions that are essential in the construction of a democratic society.