US State Department's Country Report does not reflect the truth: Azerbaijani ombudsperson
The Commissioner for Human Rights of Azerbaijan (Ombudsman) Sabina Aliyeva issued a statement concerning issues covered in the US State Department's 2022 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Azerbaijan, News.Az reports.
The statement in particular says:
“We would like to clarify some issues concerning the information on the activities of the Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) of the Republic of Azerbaijan reflected in the next annual report of the U.S. Department of State since the information reflected in the report as the opinion of "NGOs" whose address and name are unknown under the name of civil society is biased and does not reflect the truth.
According to the legislation of the Republic of Azerbaijan, proposals, applications, and complaints addressed to the Ombudsman by arrested or detained persons are sent accordingly, without delay or censorship. The Ombudsman always keeps an eye on this issue and constantly monitors the uncensored correspondence of detainees.
In general, during the activity, all appeals to the Ombudsman without any distinction are investigated, actions are taken, and responses are provided to each appeal promptly. The Ombudsman's 916 Call Center also serves as a successful and efficient mechanism for immediate and effective investigation of complaints during and after the pandemic. The detainees, their lawyers, and family members may submit free and around-the-clock appeals.
In this regard, we should note that the lawyers’ appeals citing potential barriers to the meetings with their clients were granted in all cases.
The Ombudsman and members of her National Preventive Group (NPG) conduct scheduled and unscheduled visits to up to 250 places that detainees cannot leave on their own free will without prior notice. Hundreds of detainees are received individually in addition to holding collective meetings and educational events. Preventive visits are carried out on the basis of the Ombudsman's rapid response to the requests of the detainees themselves, their legal counsels, or family members, as well as to the information in the mass and social media.
People against whom there are relevant court decisions and information about them have been disseminated in the mass media have been repeatedly accepted by the Ombudsman and her NPG members; their appeals have been raised before the appropriate institutions and have been secured. Those persons expressed their gratitude to the Ombudsman for the assistance provided and for taking their rights into consideration.1 The lawyers also thanked the Ombudsman for the help provided in the ongoing successful settlement of their appeals to ensure the rights of their clients.2
Preventive visits are conducted independently with the involvement of civil society members. All of this material is made public through press releases, and the Ombudsman’s NPM and Annual Reports,3 which provide a comprehensive account of the preventive visits' findings, are presented to the general public on the official website.
Even the persons indicated in the appeals of the International Committee of the Red Cross to the country's Ombudsman are received by the NPG members in the institutions they visit; their appeals are heard, and the treatment and detention conditions are monitored. The Ombudsman promotes the importance of cooperation with other institutions.
Considering the foregoing and providing briefly substantiated material, we state that the information on the activities of the Ombudsman in the report of the U.S. Department of State are groundless and do not help to fix any issues.”