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

Support Us

New Report: Who is behind the wheel? Fixing the global standards on company ownership

To counter crime and corruption, law enforcement authorities around the world need to be able to swiftly uncover the identities of the real owners of companies. Transparency International argues that public registers of beneficial ownership should be the norm.

هل سيشعل الفساد المستشري فتيل الخريف العربي؟

خلال الشهرين الماضيين، اجتاحت موجة من الاحتجاجات شوارع مصر والعراق ولبنان. وبلغ عدد المحتجين الذين نزلوا إلى الشوارع في لبنان أكثر من مليون شخص ينددون بالظلم، وكان ذلك غالبا في تحدّ للقمع العنيف الذي تمارسه السلطات. وعلى الرغم من اختلاف المطالب التي نادى بها المحتجون في البلدان الثلاثة، بل تختلف حتى فيما بين الحركات في نفس البلد، إلا أن هذا الغضب العارم قام على قاسم مشترك بينها: الفساد وسوء الإدارة المالية للحكومات.

Will rampant corruption spark an Arab Autumn?

A common factor has underpinned mass protests in Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon over the past two months: outrage over corruption and financial mismanagement by governments.

Better blending: how the World Bank can promote transparency in financing sustainable development

As the World Bank holds its annual meetings in Washington D.C this week, Transparency International is calling for greater transparency, accountability and participation in the World Bank’s contribution to financing the 2030 Agenda.

Fighting corruption in the age of “fake news”

"Fake news" has become a major threat to public trust in democracy and news media outlets over the past years. The fight against corruption is also affected.

Right to information: a tool for people power

Globally, approximately 120 countries have right to information laws. In some countries, these laws are top notch, but in others, the laws either don’t exist or need significant improvements. On International Right to Know Day, citizens are speaking out around the world to demand greater accountability from government. But are most people even aware of their right to request information in the first place?

Global Corruption Barometer - Latin America and the Caribbean 2019

The Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) – Latin America & Caribbean highlights the disproportionate effect that corruption has on women and a significant lack of political integrity among government leaders.

Mujeres y corrupción en Latinoamérica y el Caribe

A lo largo de la última década, cada vez más mujeres de Latinoamérica y el Caribe han alzado la voz en reclamo de igualdad de derechos para las mujeres y las niñas.

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media