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Statement of Solidarity with Detained Observers in Azerbaijan

(April 30, 2024)


The Global Network of Domestic Election Monitors (GNDEM) expresses its deep concern with the detainment of citizen election observers from the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS) in Azerbaijan. The arrest of nonpartisan citizen observers contributes to a climate of fear and hampers the rights of the people of Azerbaijan to provide independent oversight over their country’s elections.

Based on its observation of the recent February 7 snap presidential elections, EMDS concluded that the process “was conducted in an environment lacking democratic principles and real political competition, violating national and international standards for free and fair elections.” Since the pre-election period, EMDS leaders and observers have been subjected to a sustained discrediting campaign and constant harassment by the government, including the detainment of the organization’s chairperson, Anar Mammadli, on April 29.

GNDEM stands in solidarity with EMDS and all nonpartisan civic actors who face threats to their security for safeguarding the electoral process, ensuring transparency and accountability, and defending the right of citizens to exercise their vote. GNDEM condemns all forms of threats, harassment and violence against nonpartisan citizen election observers.

As the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders stated, election observers, including nonpartisan citizen election observers, are human rights defenders who serve to protect civil and political rights of citizens and that “Member States are urged to take all necessary steps to establish conditions that allow national and international election observers to effectively do their work, and to protect them from any violence, threats, retaliation, adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of their legitimate exercise of their rights and freedoms.”

We urge the Azerbaijani authorities to hold accountable any officials responsible for the harassment and spurious detention of EMDS representatives, staff and observers, and adhere to their responsibility to protect human rights defenders in accordance with international law. GNDEM also appeals to international and regional observation missions and institutions to support EMDS and other human rights defenders in Azerbaijan.

Endorsed by:

East and Horn of Africa Election Observers Network (E-HORN)
European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO)
European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE)
West Africa Election Observers Network (WAEON)
African Election Observers Network (AfEONet)

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