STRASBOURG (Armenpress) — The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) this week published its new report on Azerbaijan.
According to the report, there are concerns about the continued use of hate speech, a crackdown on independent civil society and media, prejudice against LGBT people and discrimination against religious minorities.
As a result, vulnerable groups can no longer turn to NGOs for assistance in cases of racism, hate speech and discrimination. Even though no violent hate crime based on ethnic affiliation has been registered in Azerbaijan during the last five years, political leaders, educational institutions and media have continued spreading hate speech.
The pardon, release and promotion in 2012 of Ramil Safarov, who had been sentenced in Budapest to life imprisonment for the murder of an Armenian army officer, contributes to a sense of impunity for the perpetrators of racist crime. The report recommends that authorities put an end to the constant, mediatized use of hate speech, and rather promote mutual understanding and confidence. Azerbaijan has not enacted comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation and there is no institution responsible for preventing and combating racism and discrimination in the private sector.
ECRI also deplores a considerable number of violent attacks against LGBT persons, many committed by family members.
The Law on Freedom of Religious Belief is not in line with international standards. Various religious minorities have been subject to harsh restrictions and discrimination, including police raids, detention, closure of places of worship, the ban on praying outside mosques, censorship of religious literature and heavy penalties.