More information about Azerbaijan is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed below:
- Human Rights Country Report
The Azerbaijani constitution provides for a republic with a presidential form of government. Legislative authority is vested in the Milli Mejlis. The president dominated the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. On September 26, constitutional amendments were approved that, inter alia, increased the president’s term in office from five to seven years and expanded the powers of the president. Other amendments included a provision permitting the further restriction of freedom of assembly. The constitutional referendum was marked by widespread credible complaints of irregularities. Legislative elections in November 2015 could not be fully assessed due to the absence of an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) election observation mission; independent observers alleged irregularities throughout the country. The 2013 presidential election did not meet a number of key OSCE standards for democratic elections.
- International Religious Freedom Report
The constitution protects the right of individuals to express their religious beliefs. Several laws and policies limit the free exercise of religion, especially for members of religious groups the government considered “nontraditional.” Authorities restricted the fundamental freedoms of assembly and expression and narrowed the operating space for civil society, including religious groups. The government detained several religious activists. Although reliable figures were unavailable, some local observers estimated the number of religious activists they considered to be political prisoners totaled 46, compared to 52 in 2014. Authorities raided gatherings of minority religious groups, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Salafis, readers of texts by Islamic theologian Said Nursi, and suspected followers of the Islamic cleric and theologian Fethullah Gulen. Some religious organizations experienced difficulty registering with the government, and unregistered communities could not openly meet. The government imposed limits on the import, distribution, and sale of religious materials. The government sponsored workshops and seminars to promote religious tolerance, hosting the international Inter-Religious Dialogue on Religious Tolerance series, and supporting activities by the Jewish community.
- Trafficking in Persons Report
Azerbaijan is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Azerbaijani men and boys are subjected to forced labor in Turkey, Russia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Azerbaijan. Women and children from Azerbaijan are subjected to sex trafficking within the country and in Turkey, Russia, and UAE. Azerbaijan is a destination country for sex and labor trafficking victims from Turkey, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and, in previous years, China and Russia. Some migrant workers from Turkey and other countries in Europe and South and Central Asia are subjected to forced labor in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan was used as a transit country for victims of sex and labor trafficking from Central Asia to UAE, Turkey, and Iran in previous years. Within the country, some children, particularly those of Romani descent, are subjected to forced begging and forced labor as roadside vendors and at tea houses and wedding facilities. Filipina victims are subjected to domestic servitude in Azerbaijan.