Why aren’t media and children’s ombudsman institutions established in Azerbaijan? – INVESTIGATION

Why aren’t media and children’s ombudsman institutions established in Azerbaijan? – <font color=red>INVESTIGATION </font>
# 03 February 2010 14:35 (UTC +04:00)
Everybody admits that there are enough problems concerning the children and media, people who are in need of protection and violations of law. Though it has been discussed on various levels several times, the issue has not been solved yet. Establishment of media ombudsman institution is reflected in the national legislation, establishment of children’s ombudsman institution in the recommendations of the UN Committee for Children’s Rights. Then why aren’t media and children’s ombudsman institutions established in Azerbaijan?

As Azerbaijan’s Human Rights Commissioner (Ombudsman) Elmira Suleymanova is abroad, it was impossible to learn her position about it.

Chairman of the parliament’s committee for legal policy and statehood Ali Huseynov told APA that the commitments of the Council of Europe did not contain the establishment of media and children’s ombudsman institutions. According to him, the practice used for establishment of ombudsman institution in Azerbaijan does not contain such issues.

3 million children need protection?

Head of NGO Alliance for Children’s Rights Nabil Seyidov told APA that the idea of establishing ombudsman institution for children’s rights in Azerbaijan appeared in 2005. NGO Alliance for Children’s Rights offered it. In 2005, 45 organizations appealed to Azerbaijani President for establishing ombudsman institution.
“The proposal on establishing the ombudsman institution for children’s rights in Azerbaijan was also included into the alternative report sent to the UN Committee for Children’s Rights. In 2006, it was recommended to establish ombudsman for children’s rights in Azerbaijan, or a special structure under the Ombudsman’s Office. Since then, the Alliance has appealed for establishment of the ombudsman institution. This proposal was also included into the alternative report prepared by the Alliance in 2009,” he said.

According to Seyidov, there are about 3 million children in Azerbaijan.
“Approximately 4000 children have been registered in the police offices. About 2500 street children, 500 children, who committed crimes, are detained every year. About 50 children are held in the correctional facility. About 200,000 children are refugees and IDPs. The number of the children that underwent violence is not known. Poor families are 11 percent in Azerbaijan. Who should deal with the protection of the rights of these children? There should be an independent body dealing with the elimination of the law violations against these children. The relations between the state bodies and citizens in Azerbaijan are on the stage of formation. In this respect it is important to establish an ombudsman institution dealing with children’s rights. President should nominate some persons and the parliament should approve one of them. There is great difference between children and adults. Therefore, the activity of the ombudsman for children’s rights and ombudsman for human rights will differ from each other,” he said.

Head of the NGO said the ombudsman institution for children’s rights may also be established as a separate body under the Ombudsman’s Office.
“The parliament should confirm this post once more. It should be added to the constitutional law on ombudsman that there must be commissioner for children’s rights in Azerbaijan. It should also be added to the law on “Children’s rights” adopted in 1998 that children’s ombudsman institution is established in Azerbaijan, this person will deal with the restoration of violated rights of children. Some say there is a State Committee for Family, Women and Children’s problems in Azerbaijan. But the ombudsman for children’s rights deals with the restoration of the violated rights of children, prepares and applies state policy on children.”

Seyidov said Azerbaijan has no direct commitment vis-à-vis the international organizations on establishing children’s ombudsman institution.
“The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child says that the member states are to prepare the national mechanisms for protection of children’s rights. One of these mechanisms is Children’s Ombudsman. There are children’s ombudsmen in about 50 countries.”

The crimes committed by children make up 2.2 percent of the general crimes

Director of the Interior Ministry’s department for prophylactic actions with the underage Kamal Imanverdiyev told APA that there is a department on protection of children’s rights in Azerbaijani Ombudsman’s Office.
“There is a need to improve this department. Establishment of independent children’s ombudsman institution would be favorable. Broad measures are being taken for the solution of children’s problems in the country. But I would welcome the establishment of children’s ombudsman institution,” he said.
Kamal Imanverdiyev said children usually could not inform about the violation of their rights. Their parents do it. The crimes committed by children make up 2.2 percent of the general crimes.
“The crimes against children make up 3 – 3.5 percent of the general crimes,” he said.

Kamal Imanverdiyev said the reports that about 4000 children had been registered by the police were wrong.
“Their number change within a year. The number of the children registered by the police does not exceed 300-500 in a year. They are registered for rehabilitation, measures are taken about them,” he said.
Kamal Imanverdiyev said there was no absolute figure concerning the street children in Azerbaijan.
“It also changes. The street children are those who have been involved in beggary by their parents, who sell tickets in buses, clean windows of cars. We reveal 300-400 street children within a year,” he said.

“If we establish 20 ombudsman institutions in Azerbaijan with 9 million population, we will reduce this problem”

Chairman of the parliament’s committee for social policy Hadi Rajabli considers that independent Children’s Ombudsman Institution should not be established in Azerbaijan. He told APA that the ombudsman institution is being improved in Azerbaijan.
“There are a number of ombudsman institutions in the developed countries. If we establish 20 ombudsman institutions in Azerbaijan with 9 million population, we will reduce this problem. I think there should be one common ombudsman institution in Azerbaijan. Several structures may be established under the Ombudsman’s Office. There is more need for consumers’ ombudsman than children’s ombudsman. There is a children’s alliance in Azerbaijan. There are about 30 NGOs dealing with the protection of children’s rights. They should be involved in cooperation with Ombudsman’s Office. There is no need to amend the legislation,” he said.

“Increase of suicide cases among children is a serious signal”

Deputy of Milli Majlis Gular Ahmadova noted that the idea of establishment of children’s omdusman in Azerbaijan needs to be discussed seriously. According to her, Heydar Aliyev Foundation has taken very serious measures in the direction of solution of children’s problems in the country. The foundation carries out huge projects related to children in education, healthcare and social fields.

“Establishment of ombudsman on information issues is a law of demand”

Director of the Baku-based Media Rights Institute Rashid Hajili told APA that the law on information envisaged the establishment of ombudsman on information issues. After the adoption of the law, ombudsman on information issues had to be established within 6 months.

According to Arif Aliyev, Chairman of the “Yeni Nesil” (New Generation) Union of Journalists, establishment of ombudsman on information issues is a law of demand. In early 2000, some officials in the country thought that the state budget did not allow the establishment of such institute. I agreed with them, because our state budget was not enough to take measures in this respect. But today, the situation is different. Azerbaijan’s state budget is enough to establish this organization.

Chairman of Azerbaijan Press Council Aflatun Amashov told APA that the establishment of ombudsman on information issues has been reflected in the last item of law on information. “We should seriously focus on this issue of primary importance. Information Ombudsman had to be established by 2006. Four years have passed since then. Therefore this issue must be discussed comprehensively”.
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