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October 16, 2014

News update: EITI reconsiders Azerbaijan’s compliance to its standard

By Vincent Huck

Following growing concerns on pressures from the Azeri authorities on Azerbaijan’s civil society, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) board has announced it will make an assessment on whether the country is still EITI compliant.

In latest months Azerbaijan’s authorities have increasingly been in the spotlights for detaining human rights activists, opposition members, journalists and bloggers. In early October, the BBC reported that the Azeri authorities have also frozen the bank accounts or launched tax inspection, forcing NGOs that received foreign grants to suspend their projects.

In response, the EITI board has sent a mission to the country to look at the extent to which civil society representatives can play their role in the EITI, as they are required to be able to do so by the EITI standard.

In the margins of the EITI board meeting in Myanmar this week, EITI chair Clare Short commented: "The situation facing civil society in Azerbaijan is clearly problematic. The board discussed the findings of the fact finding mission and expressed deep concern."

She announced that the board agreed for an early validation according to the EITI standard to take place in January of 2015. EITI compliant countries are normally required to go through a validation every three years.

"Validation is an external, independent evaluation mechanism, undertaken by a validator procured by the international secretariat," the EITI standard read. "It is intended to provide all stakeholders with an impartial assessment of whether EITI implementation in a country is consistent with the EITI standard."

According to an EITI spokesperson the validation will determine if Azerbaijan remains compliant or is suspended, delisted or brought back to a candidate status.

Azerbaijan has obtained the EITI compliant status in February 2009.

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