The Azerbaijani parliament has approved amendments to the country’s civil code that would effectively bar roughly 90 percent of the country’s legal professionals from practicing law.
The amendments, adopted on October 31, require presidential approval before they go into effect. They would give the state-controlled bar association complete control over the legal profession. Observers, as well as members of the legal community, characterize the move as the latest and most decisive step in an escalating crackdown on the country’s few remaining human rights lawyers.
Less than 24 hours after Azerbaijan’s parliament ratified the changes, several lawyers reported being summoned to their local police stations, where they were told they were no longer licensed to practice law and would be subject to arrest or fines if they continued.
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Mike Runey is a program officer for Eurasia at Civil Rights Defenders.