While delegates of the PACE mission to Azerbaijan released a very positive overview of the election day and the results , three of the mission’s members were of a different opinion.
In the statement, the three delegates, Ute Finckh-Kraemer, MdB, (Soc) from Germany, Michael McNamara, TD (Soc) from Ireland, and Frank Schwabe, MdB, (Soc) from Germany conclude “the situation in the country with respect to political freedoms, freedom of expression and media, and freedom of assembly and association does not provide conditions for holding free and democratic elections.”
The statement also draws attention to some orther issues:
- The run-up to the elections was marked by a deterioration in respect for human rights;
- There has been an apparent intensification of the practice of unjustified or selective criminal prosecution of journalists and others who express critical opinions;
- The use of administrative detention against those who organise or participate in “unauthorised” public gatherings has increased;
- Obstacles encountered by NGOs in carrying out their work in Azerbaijan, especially those operating in the field of human rights and those openly critical of the government, have increased;
- Freedom of expression, including freedom of the media, continues to be a long-standing concern;
- Concerns about the composition of the electoral commissions and candidate registration, have also not been addressed
“We did not come to Azerbaijan to give lessons to the people of Azerbaijan or its government. As a majority of the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly voted to send an international election observation mission to Azerbaijan to observe election day under conditions that make it likely that its presence on election day could be interpreted as giving legitimacy to a clearly undemocratic electoral process, in line with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, which the Parliamentary Assembly has endorsed, we have no alternative but to make this public statement to ensure that our presence does not imply such legitimacy”, said the statement.
In an interview AzadliqRadiosu, Frank Schwabe said, "such a special statement is very unusual. We had a very long debate concerning the statement over the whole 4 days of the short term election mission. But for some of us it was not possible to mention this election as a step foreward. And we wish to be very clear and stand with OECD/ODHIR."
Mr. Schwabe was hopefuly that there will be a clear majority for the statement back at the parliamentary assembly.