Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS) is a non-governmental organization working for holding free and fair elections, as well as development of civil society and democracy in Azerbaijan.
EMDS was established by founders and members of Election Monitoring Center (EMC), the registration of which was annulled in 2008. The registration of EMC, founded on 24 July 2001, was cancelled by Khatai District Court of Baku on 14 May 2008 upon an illegal claim of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
It’s worth noting that, during 2001-2008, EMC had observed the 24 August 2002 Constitutional Referendum, the 15 October 2003 and 15 October 2008 presidential elections, the 17 December 2004 municipal elections, the 6 November 2005 parliamentary elections, as well as all repeat and by-elections to the parliament.
Within international election observation missions of the European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO), European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) and OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR), members of EMDS have observed presidential, parliamentary elections and referenda held in Albania, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine.
Besides, EMDS (previously as EMC) has implemented programs on civil education and political rights (such electoral rights, right of appeal, freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association), citizen participation in public policy, increasing accountability of local and central administrative bodies, as well as protection of political rights.
EMDS has carried out these programs mainly with the financial-technical assistance of the OSCE Office in Baku, US Agency for International Development, European Commission, US National Democratic Institute, embassies of UK, USA, Netherlands and Canada in Baku, US National Endowment for Democracy, and German Marshall Fund.
During 2005-2013, EMDS had branches and representative offices operating in ten regions of Azerbaijan – Baku, Beylagan, Ganja, Goychay, Guba, Jalilabad, Mingachevir, Nakhchivan, Shaki and Sumgayit.
Following the 9 October 2013 presidential election in Azerbaijan, EMDS was subject to political pressure of the authorities and had to deal with defending its rights for a long time. On 27 October 2013, based on a politically-motivated criminal case started by the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Azerbaijan, a search was conducted at the Baku office of EMDS. During the search, all financial and programmatic documents of EMDS, including election observation forms and copies of protocols on voting results, as well as computers and CDs were confiscated.