The Azerbaijani government has quietly stopped the operations of two international non-governmental organizations in what some local observers claim is a further attempt to clamp down on the country’s relatively weak civil society. The government counters that it is merely following the terms of its NGO registration requirements.
The Baku offices of the Washington, DC-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Oslo-based Human Rights House Network (HRHN) last month both received written warnings from the Ministry of Justice that they could not operate in Azerbaijan without official registration or, in the case of HRHN, meeting existing registration requirements.
Under 2009 amendments to Azerbaijan’s law on NGOs, a bilateral agreement between an NGO’s country of origin and the Azerbaijani government about the NGO’s operations in Azerbaijan is required for the organization’s registration.
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Khadija Ismayilova is a freelance reporter in Baku and hosts a daily program on current affairs broadcast by the Azeri Service of RFE/RL.