WASHINGTON–The US State Department issued its annual on human rights practices throughout the world. In its report on Azerbaijan–the State Department report found gruesome violations of basic human rights–reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
"Corruption continued to pervade most government organs–and it is widely believed that most persons in appointed government positions and state employment generally purchase their positions," stressed the report.
The following are excerpts from the US State Department report–Azerbaijan Human Rights Practices for 1998:
*Heydar Aliyev–who assumed presidential powers after the overthrow of his democratically elected predecessor in 1993–was reelected in October in a controversial election marred by numerous–serious irregularities–violations of the election law–and lack of transparency in the vote counting process at the district and national levels. (Introduction)
*Economic growth has been spurred by substantial foreign investment in the hydrocarbon sector–but it is offset by a highly organized system of corruption and patronage. (Introduction)
*The judiciary is corrupt–inefficient and subject to executive influence. (Introduction)
*The government restricted freedom of assembly–association–religion and movement when it deemed it in its interest to do so. Police suppressed or refused to allow many peaceful public demonstrations–while allowing others to occur. (Introduction)
*Torture is illegal; however–there are credible reports that the police practice of beating prisoners during arrest–interrogation–and pre-trial detention was widespread. (Sec. 1c)
*The government continues to restrict citizens’ ability to change their government peacefully. Although the Government passed and improved election law–the presidential election was marred by many irregularities and a number of international and independent organizations concluded that it did not meet international standards. (Introduction)
*Government newspapers made a number of references to the ethnic affiliation (Jewish) of the director of the Azerbaijani service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) in the context of criticizing RFE/RL for unbalanced coverage of events in the country. (Sec. 2a)