“The SCA has received information which raised concerns that the HRCA may no longer be operating in full compliance with the Paris Principles. The information related to actions taken and not taken, and statements made and not made, by the HRCA indicating unwillingness to effectively engage on serious human rights violations, including those relating to torture and conditions of detention, arbitrary detention, freedom of expression, and the protection of human rights defenders.
In particular, the SCA considered the following information:
– The 2015 Concluding Observations of the Committee against Torture in which it expressed concern that the HRCA, in its role as NPM, “has not been effective in addressing the main problematic issues related to the prevention of torture and human rights violations in places of deprivation of liberty”, as well as the Human Rights Committee in its 2016 Concluding Observations noted that it “is concerned about the mechanism’s effectiveness in preventing torture and ill-treatment and other violations in places of deprivation of liberty.”
At the session, the SCA provided the HRCA with the opportunity to respond to these observations. The SCA acknowledges that it is the position of the HRCA that the concerns expressed represent the views of various NGOs rather than the Committee members themselves. However, the SCA was not satisfied with this response.
– Various statements of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressing concern about the reported crackdown in Azerbaijan on journalists and human rights defenders, including a September 2015 statement, available at:
At the session, the SCA provided the HRCA with an opportunity to outline the actions taken by the institution in response to these concerns, with reference to the specific cases of Khadija Ismayilova, Lyal and Arif Yunus, Intigam Aliyev, Anar Mammadli and Rasul Jafarov.
The SCA acknowledges that the HRCA did provide some evidence about actions taken in relation to these concerns, including undertaking visits to the detained individuals and, in the case of Intigam Aliyev, making a request for the return of two books that had been seized. However, the SCA is of the view that the evidence provided does not establish that the HRCA has effectively responded to the concerns raised.
– A report from civil society organizations presenting concerns relating to the independence and effectiveness of the HRCA, and asserting that it is not viewed as an effective institution by civil society organizations as a result of its failure to respond to gross human rights violations, including by remaining silent in relation to government crackdowns on civil society, the jailing of leading human rights defenders, the closure of human rights NGOs, and the adoption of repressive NGO laws limiting the ability of these organizations to operate effectively. The submission references the specific cases of Bayram Mammadov and Giyas Ibrahimov and alleges that the HRCA failed to promptly visit the youth activists in detention and, when they did, falsely reported that they had no complaints and had not been subject to torture.
The SCA received and considered a written response from the HRCA. It acknowledges that the HRCA disputes the veracity of the NGO submission and that it has provided some evidence of activities it has taken in response to these issues and specific cases, including visiting the two individuals in detention. However, the SCA is of the view that the evidence provided does not establish that the HRCA has effectively responded to the concerns raised.
In view of all of the material before it, the SCA is of the view that the HRCA has not spoken out in a manner that promotes protection for human rights in response to credible allegations of serious human rights violation having been committed by government authorities. The failure to do so demonstrates a lack of its independence. Therefore, the SCA is of the view that the HRCA is acting in a way that has seriously compromised its compliance with the Paris Principles.
An NHRIs’ mandate should be interpreted in a broad, liberal and purposive manner to promote a progressive definition of human rights which includes all rights set out in international, regional and domestic instruments. NHRIs are expected to promote and ensure respect for all human rights, democratic principles and the strengthening of the rule of law in all circumstances and without exception. Where serious human rights violations are occurring or imminent, NHRIs are expected to conduct themselves with a heightened level of vigilance and independence.”