Amnesty International Calls on Government of Azerbaijan to Improve Living Conditions of Refugees and IDPs
Azerbaijan, Baku / corr. Trend E.Huseynov / In its report (Amnesty International Report 2007), Amnesty International calls on the Government of Azerbaijan to improve the living conditions of internally displaced people who suffered as a result of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries erupted in 1988 due to Armenian territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenia occupies 20% of Azerbaijani lands, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and its seven surrounding districts. Since 1992 to the present time, these territories have been under Armenian occupation. In 1994, Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a cease-fire agreement at which time the active hostilities ended. The Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group ( Russia, France and USA) are currently holding peaceful negotiations.
"Restricted rights for the people displaced by the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict continue to have their freedom of movement restricted by a cumbersome internal registration process linking eligibility for employment and social services to a fixed place of residence. Although there was progress in moving the displaced out of temporary shelters and providing housing, many new purpose-built settlements were located in remote and economically depressed areas. People re-housed in these settlements face a lack of jobs and access to basic services such as education and health care," stated in the report.
The report says that the rights to freedoms of expression and assembly were restricted. Police routinely used force to disperse demonstrations. Opposition journalists were attacked, imprisoned or fined on criminal defamation or dubious drug-related charges. Opposition politicians were denied rights to due process and reportedly in some cases medical care and access to legal counsel of their own choosing.
No progress was made in investigating the murder in 2005 of newspaper editor Elmar Huseynov, widely believed to have been killed because of his criticism of political corruption. Criminal defamation proceedings were brought against several individuals and newspapers.