Azerbaijan: closing down civil society

Azerbaijan: closing down civil society

Since March 2005 when Transparency Azerbaijan opened its first free legal advice office in Baku, known as an Advocacy and Legal Advice Centre or ALAC, more than 40,000 people have asked for help about how to combat the corruption they face every day.  Most of these people come from vulnerable groups who feel their voices are not heard.

Transparency Azerbaijan opened four more centers between 2005 and 2007, but funding was always a struggle. It had to close two centers after the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe scaled back in the country at the end of 2013. The remaining three centers were funded by a new USAID project that started in September 2012.

But on 8 August 2017, Transparency Azerbaijan announced that it had to close its two regional ALACs and had scaled back its operations in the capital city of Baku. This is because the government would not approve an extension of the funding as it comes from outside the country.  Since 2012 the government has introduced restrictive laws that do not allow civil society organisations to accept money from international donors.

This should not be allowed to happen. Transparency Azerbaijan is a non-partisan organisation, like all Transparency International chapters, with no political affiliations. Its role is to combat corruption and it provides a way for people to speak up. Its work also shows how civil society can help the stated aims of the government to combat corruption.

Azerbaijan scores just 30 on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, indicating a serious problem with corruption.  

The blanket ban on foreign grants has brought the country’s civil society to a halt and has dealt a devastating blow to civic initiatives across the board.

Rena Safaraliyeva Executive Director Transparency Azerbaijan

But without a vibrant civil society, it is hard for citizens to hold governments to account. Often organizations cannot raise funds locally. But people need advocates to speak on their behalf, particularly on the issue of corruption.

Transparency Azerbaijan is making a difference.

  • It uses information from the ALACS to make policy recommendations to address the gaps in the legislation and public administration.
  • It hosts debates between civil society and government representatives to discuss policy areas, including housing, employment and how to use cashless payments by government to limit corruption.
  • It acts as an independent voice of the people. It's a voice repeatedly heard by the government and translated into new legal acts and institutional improvements in such areas as the development of e-government and the introduction of principles of transparency and accountability by public service centers.  

The closing down of space for civil society to operate around the world hurts the most vulnerable in society. The government of Azerbaijan should make changes to legislation to facilitate approval of the grants to civil society, including Transparency Azerbaijan. This would help the citizens of the country and the government in the fight against corruption.

For any press enquiries please contact press@transparency.org

Latest

Support Transparency International

Asylum for Sale: Refugees say some U.N. workers demand bribes for resettlement

A 7-month investigation found reports of UN staff members exploiting refugees desperate for a safe home in a new country. By Journalists for Transparency reporter Sally Hayden.

Four ways the G20 can take the lead on anti-corruption

The globalisation of world trade and finance has been accompanied by an internationalisation of corruption. The G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group therefore has the potential to be a very important partner in the fight for a more just world.

Venezuela: Se necesitan instituciones sólidas para abordar la delincuencia organizada

La corrupción en las más altas esferas del Gobierno venezolano ha causado inestabilidad social y económica extrema y ha debilitado a las instituciones estatales que deberían proteger a la ciudadanía. Las redes de delincuencia organizada actúan con impunidad en todo el país.

Venezuela: Strong institutions needed to address organised crime

Corruption in the top echelons of the Venezuelan government has led to extreme instability and weak state institutions, and allows organised crime networks to act with impunity all across the country.

The trillion dollar question: the IMF and anti-corruption one year on

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has made public commitments and adopted a new framework to address corruption - we check how the IMF is progressing with this one year later.

Three years after the Panama Papers: progress on horizon

The explosive Pulitzer Prize-winning global media project known as the "Panama Papers" turned three years old, and there are many reasons to celebrate.

Call for papers: the Global Asset Registry workshop – Paris, July 1-2

ICRICT, the World Inequality Lab project, Tax Justice Network, and Transparency International are co-hosting a workshop to develop the framework for a Global Asset Registry in Paris on July 1-2. The organisers wish to invite original, high-quality papers for presentation.

Troika Laundromat signals a different kind of financial crisis

The Troika Laundromat investigation shines a spotlight on a cast of new and familiar characters in the ongoing saga surrounding flows of dirty money through the world’s financial system.

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media