European Commission against Racism and Intolerance Publishes Next Report on Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan, Baku / corr. Trend Gasimova / The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) of the Council of Europe published a report on Azerbaijan. According to the information provided by the Baku Office of the Council of Europe, it is the Commission's second report covering the period from 2003 to December 2006.
Since the publication of ECRI's first report on Azerbaijan on 15 April 2003, progress has been made in a number of fields highlighted in the report. In the area of education, access to public school for children of non-citizens without legal status has been improved and measures in favour of teaching human rights as well as minority languages have been taken. Efforts have been made to better combat illegal behaviour on the part of law enforcement officials. A "State Programme on improvement of the living conditions and raising employment for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs)" was adopted in 2004 and is currently being implemented. A procedure for granting the status of refugees was put in place and some asylum seekers have already obtained refugee status on this basis. However, a number of recommendations made in the ECRI's first report have not been implemented, or have only been partially implemented. There are allegations of cases of harassment on the part of law enforcement and other officials against members of some minority religious groups. Certain categories of non-citizens experience difficulties in obtaining legal status or in exercising the rights which arise from this legal status.
In this report, ECRI recommends that the Azerbaijani authorities take further action in a number of areas. It recommends in particular that they provide officials in the judicial system with more training on the importance of adequately applying criminal law provisions to combat racism and intolerance. It asks that a specialized body be set up to combat racism and racial discrimination and that the civil and administrative law provisions prohibiting racial discrimination be strengthened.
The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) was established by the Council of Europe. It is an independent human rights monitoring body specialized in questions relating to racism and intolerance. It is composed of independent and impartial members, who are appointed on the basis of their moral authority and recognized expertise in dealing with racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance.