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Amendments to the Constitution of Azerbaijan and democratic rules. Legal opinion

Human Rights Club of Azerbaijan and the Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights on 10 August 2013 present the legal opinion on presidential elections in Azerbaijan. The opinion has been prepared by distinguished constitutional law scholar Professor Wojciech Sadurski.

The author argues that provisions of the 2009 constitutional amendments, which create an opportunity for the President Ilham Aliyev to run for the third term in office, are contrary to the principles of the rule of law, human rights and transparency.

The opinion consists of the summary of the amendments and analysis of their transparency and compliance with modern democratic standards. The author claims that the process of introduction of the constitutional changes violated the principle of opennes and transparency since the most meaningful change was opaque and hidden among more than 20 other provisions.

Right to democratic government, the author further argues, is an essential right that has to be respected in order to fulfill the international obligations of respecting human rights. Therefore, if a country, which is a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, lifts any limits to the reelection of president, it breaches the Convention. Furthermore, 2009 constitutional amendment, which lifted presidential term limits, violated principles of legal certainty and retrospectivity.

„I hope that this opinion will become a subject of consideration of international opinion-makers, institutions, as well as ordinary citizens of Azerbeijan before upcoming presidential elections.“ – says Rasul Jafarov from the Human Rights Club of Azerbaijan.

„The legal arguments presented in the analysis of prof. Sadurski reflects popular viewpoint, which says that Constitution should not have been changed so to allow Ilham Aliyev to become a president for a lifetime“ – adds Rasul Jasfarov.

The opinion might also gain an importnce in the context of the recent decision of the European Parliament not to send an observation mission to the upcoming presidential elections in Azerbaijan.

„Hopefully, the opinion will help to convince European and national decision-makers to take a closer look at the political future of the country. The international community cannot ignore the fact that Azerbaijan, by signing the European Convention on Human Rights, obliged to meet the standards set by the Convention“ – says Adam Bodnar from the Polish Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.

Prof. Sadurski is a professor at the University of Sydney Faculty of Law. He is also member of the Global Faculty of the New York University School of Law. He specializes in comparative constitutional law, freedom of speech and human rights. He has published numerous articles and books in leading legal journals and publishers, including Oxford University Press.

The opinion in English is available here.

The opinion in Azerbaijani is available here.

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