The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative joins public criticism of the Azerbaijan government’s repressive political tactics
Concerns about the Azerbaijan government’s restrictions on civil society prompted the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) board to downgrade the country’s status to ‘candidate’ earlier this month. In recent months the government has hindered access to documents and frozen bank accounts related to EITI projects as well as jailed government critics, acts more common in totalitarian countries than democracies, which led to calls for EITI to act.
“There has been some progress in addressing our concerns, but further work is needed to ensure that civil society in Azerbaijan can participate in the EITI in a meaningful way. We look forward to continuing to work together,” Clare Short, chairperson of the EITI, says in a prepared statement.
The decision to downgrade followed an EITI report in January that was launched ahead of schedule. In the validation report, the EITI Board called on the government of Azerbaijan “to reaffirm its commitment to work with civil society organisations (CSOs) and ensure an enabling participative environment.” The Board specifically asked the government to ensure that NGO Coalition Members could resume their roles within EITI, including accessing their bank accounts and registering new grants for EITI implementation activities; speaking freely about the EITI process and...