U.S. urged Azerbaijan to stop silencing opposition, critics, in response to COVID-19

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https://www.turan.az-The U.S. has urged authorities in Azerbaijan to ensure that actions taken in response to COVID-19 are not used to silence civil society advocacy, opposition voices, or public discussion, according to the State Department’s fact sheet, released on July 20th, TURAN’s Washington correspondent reports.

“Azerbaijani authorities have harassed and arrested — and in one case institutionalized in a psychiatric hospital — opposition members and others who have criticized the government,” the State Department noted.

It goes on to highlight that the U.S. is committed to the protection of democracy, good governance, and human rights in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Societies that respect and defend human rights, fundamental freedoms, democratic institutions, and the rule of law are best equipped to respond transparently and effectively to crises,” the State Department noted.

“A robust respect for human rights, as well as whole-of-society action, are necessary parts of the solution to public health crises.  Government responses to the COVID-19 epidemic must not use the disease as a pretext for repression of persons or ideas,” the report said.

According to the authors, the U.S. Government leverages bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, foreign assistance, and other foreign policy tools and resources to advance democratic norms and combat authoritarian responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the State Department, the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) has launched a COVID-19 Working Group to coordinate policy and programming on government transparency and accountability, full participation of civil society, and access to information.

The U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Center of Excellence on Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG Center) has created a cross-cutting DRG  Issues and COVID-19 Working Group.

Alex Raufoglu

Washington D.C.

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