Crackdown on civil society continues, according to Azerbaijan Universal Periodic Review
An October 2018 report by Democracy Monitor, Human Rights Club and International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR), stated that "the political context and human rights situation have not improved in the country" as authorities "continue to rule based on a system of patronage and oppression, unfair elections, and a high level of corruption which mean that Azerbaijan is moving towards a consolidated autocracy". In November 2018, Azerbaijan’s rating on the CIVICUS Monitor was downgraded from repressed to closed.
On 20th September 2018, the UN Human Rights Council, during its 39th session, adopted the Universal Periodic Review outcome of Azerbaijan. Khalaf Khalafov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, said that of the 259 received recommendations, Azerbaijan had accepted 179 and "would set up a working group at the level of deputy ministers to ensure their implementation". Among the rejected recommendations were those related to politically motivated prosecutions, a decision, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW) which was "disappointing, if unsurprising".
HRW further stated that "Azerbaijan has a persistent record of using bogus charges to imprison government critics, routinely manipulating or fabricating evidence. Many cases show that authorities had motivation to retaliate against critics."
On 17th November 2018, several members of the Azerbaijani opposition organised a demonstration to commemorate National Revival Day, the first mass protest against Soviet power that took place in 1988.
As authorities claimed the demonstration was an "unsanctioned political action", several protesters were detained, including Ali Karimli, the head of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (PFP), and charged under two articles of the Administrative Offense Code relating to rules on public assembly. Karimli was released after being fined 2,500 manat (approximately US$1,500).
Azerbaijani police detain dozens of oppositionists in Baku https://t.co/tQ0FdcFr3b The activists were conducting a march to celebrate a national holiday, but the authorities accused them of doing it for unsanctioned “political purposes.” @Lamiya_Adilgizi breaks it down pic.twitter.com/AmEdcPNzAP— Joshua Kucera (@joshuakucera) November 20, 2018