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Azerbaijan: Warned for meeting without state permission, legal status applications still delayed

ICC Note:

“After a police raid in Azerbaijan’s port city of Sumgait in mid-June, a judge gave the leader of a Baptist church, Pavel Byakov, a verbal warning not to meet for worship without state permission,” Forum 18 News Service reports.

By Felix Corley

7/27/2011 Azerbaijan (Forum 18 News Service) – After a police raid in Azerbaijan’s port city of Sumgait in mid-June, a judge gave the leader of a Baptist church, Pavel Byakov, a verbal warning not to meet for worship without state permission. The judge also warned that for a second “offence” Byakov will be fined, church members who asked not to be named for fear of state reprisals told Forum 18 News Service. A large quantity of literature confiscated in the raid has been given to the State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations, to decide whether the material is legal. Prolonged delays in dealing with applications for legal status still continue, over one and half years after the deadline for processing applications. In defiance of Azerbaijan’s international human rights commitments unregistered religious activity is illegal. Two religious communities – Cathedral of Praise Protestant Church and Baku’s Jehovah’s Witness community – have challenged the State Committee’s failure to re-register them through the courts, and Cathedral of Praise today (27 July) gained a court ruling that they should be re-registered. But it still remains unclear when or if this will happen.

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