September 26, Azerbaijan faces a referendum on constitutional changes aiming to strengthen the powers of President Ilham Aliyev. The proposed changes include prolonging the term of office from five to seven years as well as abolishing the minimum age for future presidential candidates. New posts as First Vice President and Vice President will be introduced and the powers for the President to dissolve the parliament will be expanded. (more…)
The fall in oil prices puts pressure on the country’s economy. Read more here
The imprisoned Azeri journalist Khadija Ismayilova was released May 25. She was detained December 2014 after critical reporting linking President Aliyev’s family to corruption. Still, there are over 80 political prisoners in Azerbaijan, according to Freedom House.
President Aliyev’s ruling New Azerbaijan Party maintains its dominance after the parliamentary elections on November 1. The elections were boycotted by the opposition and international observers.
During its session on June 22-26, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution condemning the deteriorating situation for human rights in Azerbaijan and demanded an end to the systematic oppression of human rights defenders. The Swedish delegation met with human rights organizations in relation to the meeting to discuss the situation in Azerbaijan.
Giorgi Gogia from Human Rights Watch has summarised the latest developments in Azerbaijan in an opinion in Politico. The situation in the country has drastically went from bad to worse as free media is being limited and more dissidents are being imprisoned while struggling for a free and democratic Azerbaijan.
The journalist Khadija Ismayilova, the country’s most famous critics of the regime, got arrested in Baku and put in prison after accusations of “bringing her ex-husband to commit suicide”. Human rights activists protest however, and the editor-in-chief for RFE/RL says in an interview with Der Spiegel that “Khadija is for her journalism punished.”
Azerbaijan currently chairs the Council of Europe and it’s a decision that has angered the country’s critics. Gerald Knaus from European Stability Initiative says that “it’s shocking that the chairman is basically a dictatorship using its chairmanship period this summer to arrest literally every three days all the critical minds that defend the very value of the institution.”