Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Economic Research Center Offices in Baku Raided

15 May 2015

Azerbaijani authorities seized computers and documents during the raid on the offices of the Economic Research Center (ERC) on 13 May. According to the head of the Center Gubad Ibadoghlu, who is an EaP CSF member and former Member of the Steering Committee, these actions are a signal of the escalating government’s pressure on NGOs promoting democratic values.

“It is definitely clear that the investigations started against local and foreign non-governmental organizations in April last year are still ongoing and have entered a new stage, this time even more brutal,” said Ibadoghlu.

Apart from the items owned by ERC, the investigators took materials of the two NGOs that share office space with ERC - the Coalition for Improving Transparency Initiative in Extractive Industries and the National Budget Group.

The Head of ERC believes that the raid was directly related to his active participation in the last meeting of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) after which Azerbaijan’s status was downgraded to candidate membership from full membership.

The EITI is a global standard promoting open and accountable management of natural resources.  It seeks to strengthen government and company systems, inform public debate, and enhance trust.  In each implementing country, it is normally supported by a coalition of governments, companies and civil society working together.

ERC planned to release a monitoring report on Azerbaijan’s Open Government Partnership Action Plan activities for 2014 on 14 May, which could also provoke the raid.

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