This document analyzes the measures taken by the state with regards to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) in Azerbaijan and the implementation of quarantine rules and describes the new political situation in the country in the light of increasing political persecution during the quarantine period. The Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS) referred to national legislation, information and documents from various government agencies, and media reports, as well as its observations while preparing this document.
EMDS considers that during the lockdown regime, the decision of the Cabinet of Ministers to restrict or prohibit the constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens was not within its constitutional powers. Although Article 71 of the Constitution stipulates that state bodies may function only based on the present Constitution, in the manner and within the boundaries prescribed by law, there is no constitutional legal basis for the adoption of this special regime.
EMDS regrets that despite the calls of local human rights activists, who said that there were 104 political prisoners in the country before the pandemic, the authorities have not demonstrated a political will to release them. On the contrary, political persecution and the number of politically motivated arrests have increased.
EMDS also recommends that courts should be more equitable in dealing with administrative offences and stop video and photo recordings made against the will of detainees for administrative offences. To eliminate the issue of mutual distrust between the public and the authorities, as well as to prevent the deepening of the political crisis, the politically motivated cases should be objectively investigated, and those considered political prisoners should be released.
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