Presentation of Venice Commission’s opinion on law on NGOs in Azerbaijan held in Baku - PHOTOSESSION

Presentation of Venice Commission’s opinion on law on NGOs in Azerbaijan held in Baku - <font color=red>PHOTOSESSION</font>
# 19 April 2012 09:50 (UTC +04:00)
Baku. Viktoria Dementyeva, Kamala Guliyeva – APA. The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe has today held a conference in Baku to present its opinion on the draft law regulating the functioning of the nongovernmental organizations in Azerbaijan, APA reports.

Making a keynote speech at the conference head of the Office of the Council of Europe in Baku, Ambassador Constantin Yerocostopoulos said formation of NGOs is one of the major aspects of the human rights. He expressed his hope that the events organized jointly by the Council of Europe and the European Union will contribute to developing NGO sector in the country.

Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Azerbaijan Roland Kobia said the European Union attaches great importance to the civil society and NGO sector.
“For us they are not only an important layer of the society, but also the layer influencing the decision making,” he said.

Roland Kobia underlined that the registration of NGOs is very important.
“Some NGOs in Azerbaijan still face problems. We understand that this is a slow process, all problems can not be solved at once. We want to see Azerbaijan as a country achieving progress in the solution of these problems,” he said.

The ambassador expressed regret for non-participation of government representatives in the workshop: “I would like to know its reason, because this event is an opportunity for the dialog. Unfortunately, the government representatives don’t participate in this workshop”. Roland Kobia said that the EU made efforts towards the development of civil society in Eastern Partnership countries, besides, joint forum of the Eastern Partnership countries’ civil societies was established and this forum aims to develop the cooperation between members of civil societies of those countries.

Representative of the OSCE Baku Office Monica Martinez underlined the effective realization of law and spoke about works carried out by her organization towards it.

Then expert Jeremy McBride and representative of Venice Commission, co-author of opinion prepared to the draft law regulating the activity of NGOs in Azerbaijan Veronika Bilkova presented the opinion to the conference participants.

This opinion was issued at the 88th plenary session of Venice Commission on October 14-15, 2011. The opinion says that the registration of NGOs in many countries is enough formal procedure, the amendments made to corresponding law in Azerbaijan in 2009 and the draft law presented in 2011,complicate the long-lasting and complex registration process.

Requirements for the registration of international non-governmental organizations create some problems.

Regarding the article on responsibility and dissolution of the NGOs, the Venice Commission considers that this law is contrary to the Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others).

Chairperson of the PACE Legal Affairs and Human Rights Committee addressed the Venice Commission last June asking to express opinion about the coordination between the draft law, which regulates NGOs’ activity in Azerbaijan, with the human rights standards.

Azay Guliyev, chairman of the Council of State Support to NGOs under the President of Azerbaijan, told APA that the Council seriously discussed the opinion. “There are some issues in the opinion that could be discussed. There are no changes in the law on registration of NGOs, but there could be certain improvements in the registration issue. They could be registered not only in Baku, but other regions or large cities of Azerbaijan. The term of registration could be reduced to 30 days at least. Currently the commercial organizations are registered within the single window system. We can solve the issue of registration of the non-commercial organization within the single window system in the future. The registration is a technical issue and the activity of organization can not be suspended only because of non-registration. Some NGO’s are not interested in the registration because after the registration they have to report to tax, social protection and financial organizations. There are some inaccurate proposals in the opinion. It reads that “the fund can not be represented by two or more people”. But there is no such expression in the Azerbaijani legislation. There are some points in the opinion that don’t reflect realities”.

Guliyev said EU representatives were not right to criticize the government officials for non-participation in the presentation of the opinion. “Projects of the international organizations will have an effect in that case when they coordinate it with the government. Unilateral events can not be successful. One needs to ensure participation of the government representatives in the working stage of the process. Sometimes they invite the government officials as the guests, but the officials could have heavy working schedule in that time. I also couldn’t attend this event because I had very important meeting”.