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HRW Calls For Azerbaijan's Suspension From Transparency Group

A prominent rights group says Azerbaijan is increasing pressure on activists and should be suspended from an international coalition that promotes openness in the oil and gas industries.

Human Rights Watch said Azerbaijani government pressure may soon force independent organizations involved in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to close.

It said oil-producing Azerbaijan, which helped found EITI and sits on its governing board, is "squeezing activists to the breaking point while claiming ... that it's a leader on open civic participation and good governance."

"Azerbaijan is blatantly violating EITI rules, and EITI cannot afford to be complicit in this hypocrisy," Human Rights Watch said on August 14.

It said pressure on groups involved in EITI includes the freezing of bank accounts and is part of a broader crackdown that has escalated since a 2013 presidential election.

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