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Azerbaijani Parliament Drops Proposed Restrictions On NGOs


Police prevented NGOs from demonstrating in front of parliament.

Police prevented NGOs from demonstrating in front of parliament.

The Azerbaijani parliament has adopted a law on nongovernmental organizations, but eliminated several restrictive amendments that were opposed by NGO officials and international human rights groups, RFE/RL's Azerbaijan Service reports.

NGOs and international rights groups argued that the amendments would increase the government's control over civil society in Azerbaijan.

Some parliament deputies labeled the legislation as "progressive" while others expressed concern about the recent trend of changes viewed as undemocratic to the religion law and the mass media law.

The rejected proposals would have banned NGOs from receiving more than 50 percent of their funding from abroad; required all NGOs to register with the state; and prohibited the activities of foreign NGOs in Azerbaijan unless their activities were based on a "relevant international agreement."

About 100 people representing civil society groups began a protest on June 30 in front of the parliament building that was forcibly interrupted by plainclothes police, who destroyed the protesters’ signs.

Three NGO staffers were allowed to deliver a resolution expressing their opposition to the restrictive amendments to parliament.

Meanwhile, parliament also adopted amendments to the religion law which prohibit people educated in foreign countries from heading religious bodies, changes that were opposed by religious groups.

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