How to handle discrimination and persecution taking place without registration ?
author: Samad Rahimli
- 1. Introduction
- 2. States’ human rights obligations and human rights violations
- 3. Commitment of the Republic of Azerbaijan to freedom of conscience and religion
- 4. The real situation of freedom of conscience and religion in the Republic of Azerbaijan and practical violations
- 5. Remedies for de facto violations of freedom of conscience and religion
- 6. Conclusion
The purpose of this study (overview) is to review the actual violations of freedom of conscience and religion in the Republic of Azerbaijan and to recommend contextual remedies to address these violations. For this purpose, human rights obligations of states, the concept and typology of human rights violations, obligations of the Republic of Azerbaijan regarding freedom of conscience and religion, violations of freedom of conscience and religion in practice, as well as legal remedies (legislative enactment) against these violations are discussed within the framework of the study (overview).
2. States’ human rights obligations and human rights violations
After the Second World War (1939-1945), international law began to take on a new character. The catastrophes caused by the Second World War did not create a commitment to humanity just to solve humanitarian problems. World War II and the process leading to it were accompanied by the existence of regimes that dictated the totalitarian rule of states over the people. According to this totalitarian and absolute logic, man (the individual) was on the verge of nothingness before the state, and the state could carry out any act it wished upon the individual for “collective purposes.” The horrors of World War II necessitated the elimination of such cases. In this case, the concepts of natural rights and human dignity, which have been out of fashion since the 1920s, have been revived. This revival resulted in the codification of human rights by general international (public) law (a specific field of law that governs legal relations between states).
First, on December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Declaration listed the human rights accepted by the newly formed UN member states and declared their commitment to them.
Subsequently, work was done at the level of both the UN and the Council of Europe (CoE) on more detailed and normative regulation of human rights. Thus, on November 4, 1950, the Council of Europe adopted the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and entered into force in 1953. In 1966, after lengthy discussions, the UN adopted human rights treaties in two different areas and were submitted for signature for ratification - the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The 1970s and 1980s saw a boom in the field of international human rights treaties, and many human rights conventions regulating different fields have been adopted.
All this post-World War II process has led to the emergence of a new area of international law - International Human Rights Law (IHRL). This area imposed special (sui generis) obligations on states. While traditional general international law imposed obligations on states to regulate the legal relations that arose between them, a new area, the IHRL imposed obligations on states to regulate part of the legal relations with the state and its subjects. Even if the mechanism of implementation of these obligations is not perfectly established, the member states of the international community were supposed to control each other in this area.
Thus, the IHRL imposed peculiar human rights obligations on states that are subjects of international relations. Under these commitments, states were obliged to respect and protect the fundamental human rights of individuals (natural persons) and their organizations (juridical persons) under their jurisdiction.
The obligations of states in relation to human rights are basically divided into two categories:
1) Negative obligations - in other words, the obligation to refrain. In this case, the state is obliged not to interfere with the relevant human rights (for example, the right to freedom of expression - in which case the state must not take any action or take any measure against the said opinion);
2) Positive obligations - in other words, the obligation to provide. In this case, the state is obliged to take appropriate measures to implement the relevant human rights (for example, the right to vote - in this case, the state must take appropriate measures to ensure voting and provide the necessary electoral system).
However, the experience of the IHRL since its inception shows that states continue to violate their human rights obligations, despite their commitments. Violations of these obligations by states are called human rights violations. Human rights violations by states can be of two types (dichotomous division):
The first is legal (formal) violations - in this case, the state adopts and implements legislation that interferes with or restricts human rights. Thus, the state violates human rights in the formal ways at its disposal. For example, in 2013-2014, the legislation of the Republic of Azerbaijan in the field of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) was amended, thus restricting the access of NGOs to foreign sources of funding. This example refers to the state's legal (formal) violation of human rights obligations.
Second, real (actual) violations - in which case the state interferes or restricts human rights without adopting an appropriate legal framework or with a restrictive interpretation of existing legislation. In doing so, it violates human rights through the actual violence (force) at its disposal. For example, in the Republic of Azerbaijan, regional (city) executive authorities often reject appeals for the right to freedom of assembly and give short, unsubstantiated responses to such appeals. Then the police forces disperse the planned or held demonstrations. This example shows the state's real (actual) violation of human rights obligations.
In addition, human rights violations are accompanied by discrimination and persecution. Discrimination means unjustified and biased discriminatory treatment between individuals and groups. Persecution refers to the systematic ill-treatment of individuals and groups. In the context of human rights, persecution is defined as a systematic (persistent) violation of human rights.
States violate their human rights obligations in the two types mentioned above, and human rights violations can be essentially accompanied by discrimination and persecution. The subject of this article is related to the real (actual) violations of one of the human rights.
 There are different classifications of human rights violations. Thus, some human rights experts have identified 7 types of violations. However, we believe that the dichotomous division (legal and factual violations) is simpler and clearer. However, the dichotomous distribution is not nuanced. In this case, more nuanced divisions can be used if necessary. For example, see Global Basic Rights, edited by Charles R. Beitz, Robert E. Goodin. 2011: https://oxford.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199604388.001.0001/acprof-9780199604388
3. Commitment of the Republic of Azerbaijan to freedom of conscience and religion
The obligation of the Republic of Azerbaijan on freedom of conscience and religion has a constitutional-legal and international legal basis.
The following are the fundamental legal norms that create a constitutional legal obligation for freedom of conscience and religion.
After gaining independence in 1991 with the collapse of the USSR, by acceding to many human rights treaties and enshrining human rights provisions in its Constitution, which entered into force on 27 November 1995, the Republic of Azerbaijan has accepted the basic human rights obligations accepted by the international community.
One of these human rights obligations is freedom of conscience and religion.
Article 48 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan (the “Constitution”) establishes the right to freedom of conscience. The main opportunities directly and explicitly recognized in the Constitution for freedom of conscience are religious belief (to believe or not to believe in a religion), religious rites (participation in such ceremonies), religious dissemination, and the expression of one's beliefs. At the same time, according to the meaning of the Constitution, it is reasonable to assume that religious dress and religious education (training) are indirect elements of freedom of conscience, even if they are not directly specified in the Constitution. In addition, Article 18 of the Constitution defines the separation of religion and state and the equality of all religions before the state. The Constitution also prohibits the promotion of religious views that degrade human dignity and emphasizes the secular nature of the education system.
Article 71 of the Constitution sets forth the general grounds for the restriction of human rights. According to this provision, human rights shall be restricted on the grounds provided for in the Constitution and laws, as well as by the rights and freedoms of others. Restriction of rights and liberties shall be proportional to the result expected by the state. According to the Constitution, the principle of proportionality is taken into account when restricting human rights.
Pursuant to Article 3.6 of the Constitutional Law “On Regulation of the Excercise of Human Rights and Freedoms in the Republic of Azerbaijan”, besides on other grounds, stipulated in the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, rights and freedoms, provided for in the Para III of the Article 48 of the Constitution may be subject to restrictions in the interests of public safety as well; rights and freedoms, provided for in the Para III of the Article 48 - for the protection of public order as well; rights and freedoms, provided for in the Article 48 of the Constitution - in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others as well.
The international legal obligations of the Republic of Azerbaijan on freedom of conscience and religion arise from the following international legal acts (international agreements).
On August 13, 1992, the Republic of Azerbaijan joined the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR is a multilateral international human rights treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UN) on 16 December 1966 (entered into force on 23 March 1976). Article 18 of the ICCPR guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The ICCPR recognizes freedom of conscience and religion as a freedom of choice, as well as individually or in collective with others, and in public or private, as a form of worship, observance, practice, and teaching. Article 18 of the ICCPR allows for the restriction of freedom of conscience and religion as prescribed by law, in accordance with a legitimate purpose and necessary in a democratic society, as well as proportionally.
After the Republic of Azerbaijan became the 43rd member state of the Council of Europe (CoE) on January 25, 2001, it signed the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) on December 25, 2001 (the ECHR was ratified on April 15, 2002 entered into force). Article 9 of the ECHR guarantees freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This guarantee is essentially the same in content and character as the guarantee provided by the MSHBP. Article 9, paragraph 2, of the ECHR recognizes, in principle, the possibility of imposing proportional and necessary restrictions in a democratic society on freedom of conscience and religion for the legitimate purposes (in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others) enlisted in paragraph 2.
Thus, as can be seen from the above, the Republic of Azerbaijan has obligations on freedom of conscience and religion at both the constitutional-legal and international-legal levels. According to this obligation, the Republic of Azerbaijan must ensure freedom of conscience and religion. This freedom is, in essence, a negative right. In the negative sense, freedom of conscience and religion means that the Republic of Azerbaijan as a state must refrain from restricting or interfering with the subjects of this freedom by directly or indirectly authorizing third parties through its agents (representatives). However, it is clear from the essence of the above-mentioned legal norms that freedom of conscience and religion is considered a relative right. Therefore, the state has the power to restrict and interfere with these rights to the extent permitted by constitutional and international law. However, such restrictions and interventions must meet the tripartite inspection mechanism: 1) first and foremost, such restrictions and interventions must be defined by law; 2) thereafter, such restriction must meet a legitimate purpose enshrined in constitutional or conventional law; 3) finally, such an intervention must be necessary in a democratic society, in other words, it must be motivated by an urgent social need and must be proportional to the legitimate aim set.
It should be noted that relevant structures have been established to verify the implementation by the responsible state of the human rights rules contained in both the ICCPR and the ECHR. In relation to the MSHBP, such a body is the Human Rights Committee (HRC). In relation to the ECHR, such a tribunal is the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Both the HRC and the ECHR have developed a rich legal practice (human rights law or jurisprudence) on human rights complaints under review in their jurisdictions (this process continues). This legal practice has also been shaped by respect for freedom of conscience and religion. According to this legal practice, interference with freedom of conscience and religion must meet the requirements set out in the paragraph above. Both institutions recognize freedom of conscience and religion as one of the fundamental freedoms for a democratic society and exercise strict control over restrictions and interference by the state responsible for this right.
It should be added that the institution responsible for the official interpretation of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan is the Constitutional Court (CC). However, the CC does not have a rich legal experience in the field of human rights, including freedom of conscience and religion. Therefore, the legal experience of the ECHR and the ECHR is taken as a basis for interference in these rights.
As a result, the Republic of Azerbaijan has a fundamental (constitutional and international legal) obligation to freedom of conscience and religion. In reality, however, the situation regarding the implementation of these obligations is not satisfactory.
 See: Constitution (http://www.e-qanun.az/framework/897): Article 48. Freedom of conscience
- Everyone has the right to freedom of conscience.
- Everyone has the right to freely determine his own approach to religion, to profess individually or together with others any religion or to profess no religion, and to express and disseminate his beliefs concerning his approach to religion.
III. Religious rituals may be freely performed if they do not disturb public order and are not contrary to public morals. IV. Religious faith and belief do not excuse violations of the law.
- No one shall be forced to express (or demonstrate) his/her religious faith and belief, to perform religious rituals or participate in religious ceremonies.
 See the source above: Article 18. Religion and the state
- Religion in the Republic of Azerbaijan is separate from the state. All religions are equal before the law.
- The spread and propaganda of religions (religious movements) which humiliate human dignity and contradict the principles of humanism shall be prohibited.
III. The state education system shall be of a secular character.
 See the source above: II. No one may restrict exercise of rights and freedoms of a man and citizen. Everyone’s rights and freedoms shall be restricted on the grounds provided for in the present Constitution and laws, as well as by the rights and freedoms of others. Restriction of rights and liberties shall be proportional to the result expected by the state.
 Constitutional Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan “On regulation of the Exercise of Human Rights and Freedoms in the Republic of Azerbaijan”: http://www.e-qanun.az/framework/1881
 Ratification Status for Azerbaijan:
 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
 Chart of signatures and ratifications of Treaty 005:
 It is true that there is an aspect of freedom of conscience and religion as a partially positive right (ie the state must take certain steps to implement this right). However, the positive aspect of freedom of conscience and religion is not the subject of this article. Regarding the positive aspects of freedom of conscience and religion, see: Restricting Freedom of Expression for Religious Peace: On the ECHR’s Approach to Blasphemy, https://brill.com/view/journals/eclr/2/1/article-p75_75.xml.
 Steven Greer, The exceptions to Articles 8 to 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, CoE publication, 1997:
 The Human Rights Committee: https://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/ccpr/Pages/CCPRIndex.aspx
 The European Court of Human Rights: https://www.echr.coe.int/Pages/home.aspx?p=home
 CCPR General Comment No. 22: Article 18 (Freedom of Thought, Conscience or Religion): https://www.refworld.org/docid/453883fb22.html
 Guide on Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights: https://www.echr.coe.int/Documents/Guide_Art_9_ENG.pdf
 The Constitutional Court of the Republic of Azerbaijan:: http://www.constcourt.gov.az/decisions
4. The real situation of freedom of conscience and religion in the Republic of Azerbaijan and practical violations
Although the Republic of Azerbaijan has made fundamental commitments in the field of freedom of conscience and religion, the implementation of these commitments is practically in a state of disrepair. The Republic of Azerbaijan imposes serious restrictions on freedom of conscience and religion at the legal level, as well as practically (factually, de facto) violates these rights.
Legal violations of freedom of conscience and religion stem from the Law on Freedom of Religious Beliefs (LFRB), a sectoral piece of legislation in this field. LFRB was adopted in 1992. However, to date, the LFRB has undergone numerous (24 times) changes. As a result, the LFRB contains quite restrictive legal norms. Many of these legal norms restrict freedom of conscience and religion beyond fundamental limits and create heavy obligations for the subjects of freedom of conscience and religion (mainly believers).
In such a situation, many believers act informally beyond the unreasonable restrictions provided for in the LFRB. In this case, various interventions are carried out against believers who act informally through state law enforcement agencies, especially the structural units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) and the State Security Service (SSS).
International non-governmental organizations monitoring freedom of conscience and religion in the Republic of Azerbaijan and others regularly identify the following de facto human rights violations:
- Raids by the police and special services against believers who wish to exercise their freedom of conscience and religion, especially religious worship and ceremonies, in groups or collectively without the permission (authorization) of the state;
- Forcible closure of places of worship or forced change of leadership;
- A de facto ban on religious worship outside mosques;
- Unjustified criminal or quasi-criminal (administrative offense) prosecution of persons engaged in activism (public activity) for the purpose of exercising freedom of religion and conscience and protesting against the obstacles to these freedoms, and in this context arresting such persons;
- Torture, inhuman and cruel treatment of persons engaged in the above-mentioned activities, as well as degrading treatment;
- De facto ban or severe restrictions on religious celebrations in public places;
- Unreasonable restrictions on religious worship in state-controlled closed institutions (military units, penitentiaries), the permissibility of such worship depends on the subjective judgment of the authorities, and the pressure on those who require such worship;
- Various forms of pressure on religious people by law enforcement agencies (eg, surveillance, summoning and questioning by the police under the guise of preventive interviews, interference by law enforcement agencies in their lifestyle, such as cutting beards, etc.).
As can be seen, as an agent (representative) of the Republic of Azerbaijan, state bodies regularly violate freedom of conscience and religion by imposing various unfounded factual restrictions on freedom of conscience and religion.
At the heart of these violations is a severe legal framework created through the LFRB. LFRB poses serious obstacles to the collective exercise of religious freedom. At the heart of these obstacles is the requirement for state registration of religious communities and religious communities as a condition for the collective exercise of freedom of religion. However, the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations (SCWRA), the state body authorized to register religious communities, has broad powers. In this case, SCWRA can allow the registration of a religious community of its choice and thus the collective realization of the rights of that community. In practice, the de facto approach of the Republic of Azerbaijan is reflected in the activities of the SCWRA. Thus, the SCWRA treats religious communities as traditional and non-traditional. Traditional religious communities are Soviet-era religious communities (Shiite Muslim, Christian Orthodox, Jewish). There is no problem with the registration of these communities, as they have long-term state control and their cooperation with the state is effective. However, religious communities that emerged and functioned during the independence era are characterized by the state as non-traditional and pose serious problems with their registration. The majority of Sunni Muslim religious communities to non-traditional communities (with the exception of those loyal to the state and those officially operating in the Republic of Turkey), opposition or non-loyal (or "pro-Iranian") Shiite Muslim religious communities, Christianity unknown from the Soviet era religious communities, Jehovah's Witnesses, and others. Most of these communities face registration problems. In addition, the SCWRA closely monitors their activities (distribution of religious literature, etc.). Thus, there are serious obstacles to the collective (group) exercise of religious rights in Azerbaijan. Such obstacles result in religious communities that are unable to obtain state registration being forced to engage in informational activities. In addition, state-registered religious communities but whose activities are restricted (for example, restrictions on the distribution of certain religious literature) are forced to engage in restricted activities in an informed manner. In this case, we can say that the LFRB, which is the legal framework, and the SCWRA, which implements it, "force" religious communities to break the law. As a result, the existing legal framework makes religious communities informal. This makes them a target for law enforcement agencies. In the case of such a target, the majority of religious people are subjected to raids by law enforcement agencies, even if they exercise their rights collectively and peacefully. Thus, those who perform their religious rites and ceremonies collectively are in a situation where they have committed an "illegal act" and are persecuted by law enforcement as "regular suspects."
In addition, Article 8 of the LFRB forces Muslim religious communities to unite under the monopoly of the Caucasus Muslim Board (CMB). In this case, religious communities that do not agree with the CMB are again forced to engage in informal activities (especially in the appointment of imams and akhunds). In this case, in the absence of agreement between the communities and the CMB on these issues, the SCWRA intervenes in favor of the CMB, either forcing religious communities to suspend their activities or bringing them under the CMB. For many Muslim (especially Sunni) religious communities, this also creates an illegal situation (the CMB existed as a Shiite-centered body).
It should be noted that due to the restrictions in the LFRB, religious people are engaged in protest activism. Opposition Shiite Muslim groups are particularly interested in this issue. They are trying to protest against the restrictions in the LFRB by showing socio-political activism. Opposition Shiite communities staged protests in 2011 against restrictions on the headscarf in educational institutions. They also protest against the ban on the hijab in the issuance of ID cards. In addition, in 2015, the Muslim Union Movement (MUM) was founded by Taleh Bagirzadeh, a well-known public activist, and his comrades. Along with many socio-political issues, the MUM also protested against restrictions on freedom of conscience. In November 2015, units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs conducted a bloody raid in the Nardaran settlement of Baku and arrested MUM activists, including T. Bagirzade. MBH activists were later sentenced to long prison terms on serious charges (overthrowing the constitutional regime, etc.). During the course of the proceedings, many MUM activists were subjected to severe torture and inhuman treatment. It should be noted that in the past, many religious activists have been subjected to criminal prosecution, torture and ill-treatment, although not at this level.
Thus, religious activists protesting against the restrictions in the LFRB are subjected to various serious and false accusations, as well as torture and ill-treatment. The aim is to prevent the activism of these groups. According to the Working Group on the Unified List of Political Prisoners, as of July 2020, there are more than 100 political prisoners in Azerbaijan. About half of those political prisoners are religious activists.
Another type of de facto restriction on freedom of conscience is religious observance. Although religious ceremonies are not explicitly prohibited in the Republic of Azerbaijan, and the legal framework for conducting such ceremonies is not clear, law enforcement agencies and local executive authorities impose various restrictions on ceremonies held in public places. These cases are manifested in a special Ashura ceremony. There are problems with Ashura in different regions (for example, there were incidents in Ganja, there were problems in Nardaran in some cases, the events in Bananyar in Nakhchivan).
Other areas of violation of religious freedom include interference in the lifestyles of religious people by law enforcement agencies, especially local police (eg, beard shaving, "preventive talk", etc.) and restrictions on religious worship in military units and prisons. It should be noted that the residents of closed enterprises are vulnerable and unfavorable due to their hierarchical subordination to the management of these enterprises. In this sense, they are under constant pressure from the hierarchical structure to which they are subject.
As a result, despite the state's obligations to freedom of conscience and religion in the Republic of Azerbaijan, these obligations are subject to various restrictions and interventions as a result of a sustained public policy and by law enforcement agencies that are agents (representatives) of the state. Such restrictions and interference with this fundamental right to freedom of conscience and religion are in some cases not provided for by law or are carried out in violation of the law. Also, these restrictions do not meet legitimate goals (as their purpose is not to maintain public order, but to exercise state control over religion). In addition, it is not justified whether these restrictions are necessary in a democratic society, in other words, whether they arise from the urgent needs of a democratic society. As a result, these restrictions and interventions can be characterized as a violation of freedom of conscience and religion.
As a result, practical or de facto violations of freedom of conscience and religion can be divided into the following groups:
- Due to the lack of state permission (authorization) due to the complexity and uncertainty of the legal framework, raids of law enforcement agencies against informal religious worship, ceremonies and education, and criminal, or quasi-criminal (administrative offense) liability of these persons for alleged violations of the law;
- Exposure of believers engaged in religious activism to false, unfounded criminal charges and torture and other ill-treatment in the process;
- Actual restrictions on religious ceremonies in public places and interference in the lifestyles of religious people (preventive talks and the problem of closed institutions).
 Law on Freedom of Religious Beliefs (adopted on August 20, 1992, in force on May 4, 2021):
 The main non-governmental organization for monitoring violations of freedom of conscience and religion in Azerbaijan is the Oslo (Norway)-based human rights organization Forum18: https://www.forum18.org/forum18.php; https://www.forum18.org/archive.php?article_id=2429. In addition, The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), as a monitoring committee established under the US federal government, also continuously monitors the situation of religious freedom in the Republic of Azerbaijan: https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-report-on-international-religious-freedom/azerbaijan/
 Azerbaijan: Torture and Travesty of Justice in Nardaran Case, https://www.refworld.org/docid/5899dc714.html
 Working Group on the Unified List of Political Prisoners (July 2020):
 See for these incidents: https://www.gununsesi.info/asura-gunu-g%C9%99nc%C9%99d%C9%99-ara-qarisib/; https://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/blog/-/asset_publisher/xZ32OPEoxOkq/content/azerbaijan-should-urgently-improve-the-protection-of-freedom-of-expression/pop_up?_101_INSTANCE_xZ32OPEoxOkq_viewMode=print&_101_INSTANCE_xZ32OPEoxOkq_languageId=it_IT
5. Remedies for de facto violations of freedom of conscience and religion
In the event of human rights violations, restitution may be required. In this case, the right holder has an additional right for such a recovery process. Such a right is called right of remuneration or right to remedy. Right to remedy is defined in Article 13 of the ECHR as a subsidiary right. UN human rights mechanisms also recognize access to remedy as a fundamental right.
Theoretically, right to remedy is understood in two senses: first, in the procedural sense; second, in the substantive sense. In the procedural sense, right to remedy (measure) covers the procedural instances in which allegations of human rights violations are investigated and the method of judgment in those instances. In the substantive sense, right to remedy (measure) implies a measure to restore the rights of a successful bidder as a result of such a process.
In a procedural sense, right to remedy requires the establishment of institutions that ensure access to justice. Such institutions may be, first of all, courts. However, out-of-court institutions may also exist. Such institutions may either have the potential to produce a final outcome, such as a commission or tribunal, or may make a subsidiary contribution to the investigation (ombudsman). Thus, the establishment of procedural right of remedy institutions in relation to human rights violations and ensuring the continuity of these institutions is one of the fundamental human rights obligations of the state.
In the substantive sense, right to remedy refers to the existence of measures that can achieve optimal restoration of the rights of the victim of human rights violations, in accordance with the concept of restitutio in integrum. Substantive remedies includes compensatory, declarative, preventive and restorative measures. The compensatory remedy provides for the payment of material compensation for the violation of the right if it is not possible to restitute it. A declarative remedy means a confession or recognition of a violation of rights. Preventive remedies are to take preventive measures to prevent future violations. Restorative justice remedies are used to deal with serious and persistent violations in the past.
In addition, the nature of human rights violations must be taken into account when taking legal action. If a human rights violation is legal (formal), a separate measure will be taken. However, if the violation is de facto, separate measures must be taken. Legal action may also be general (for example, courts are the instance for all human rights violations). However, in some cases, specific institutions may also be established (for example, the hypothetical Ombudsman for Freedom of Conscience in the case of persistent violations).
The purpose of this study is related to the de facto violations of freedom of conscience and religion in the Republic of Azerbaijan. The summary of the study shows that some of the main factual violations are due to legal (formal) violations. Thus, the uncertain legal framework created by the LFRB results in the activities of religious people in the informal phase. This is the basis for subsequent raids against these individuals. In this case, the LFRB must be brought into line with human rights standards to prevent some of the actual violations. Without this, the violations committed by the SCWRA and law enforcement agencies will continue.
Another aspect is the use of law enforcement, especially police repression, against the protest activities of religious activists on unfounded charges, as well as the use of torture and ill-treatment. As a general measure, law enforcement practices need to be changed. Such a change requires, first of all, political will. If there is such a political will, a new and clearer legal framework for changing legal practice should be established, as well as effective judicial oversight of police practice. However, given the mass organization of such violations by law enforcement agencies, it is necessary to take into account the institutional nature of these violations. In this case, new steps should be taken to investigate cases of torture and ill-treatment through independent out-of-court (pre-trial) commissions. It should be noted that torture and ill-treatment by the police are currently being investigated by the prosecutor's office. In the current situation, the prosecutor's office is not an effective institution for such a pre-trial investigation.
In addition, law enforcement agencies should be instructed with clear instructions not to interfere with people's lifestyles.
Finally, given the persistence of violations of freedom of conscience and religion, it would be a good practice to establish a temporary Special Commission on Freedom of Conscience under the Office of the Ombudsman (Commissioner for Human Rights). Appropriate steps should be taken to ensure the independence and impartiality of such a hypothetical Commission, and the participation of professional human rights experts in the work of that Commission should be ensured. In addition, opportunities should be created for such a hypothetical Commission to conduct the necessary investigation. Thus, law enforcement agencies should be obliged to cooperate with the Commission, to provide access and documents. The final opinions of the Commission may be of a declaratory nature and may be used as evidence in future proceedings.
In addition, measures should be taken to increase the effectiveness of compensatory remedies. To this end, appropriate amendments should be made to the Civil Code on offense and it should be noted that public authorities are obliged to pay compensation on the basis of the opinion of the above-mentioned Commission. This may also be important for preventive remedy. Thus, the possibility of increasing the risk of paying such compensation at the local level may be deterrent for public authorities.
Civil society should also consider what restorative remedies can be taken in connection with persistent violations of freedom of conscience. For example, the release of religious activists on the Working Group on the Unified List of Political Prisoners could be an example of restorative remedy. Given that the number of these activists is currently high among political prisoners, this remedy could make a significant difference.
 Access to Remedy: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Business/Pages/AccessToRemedy.aspx
 Dinah L. Shelton. Remedies in International Human Rights Law, səhifə 7-8: https://scholarship.law.gwu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1234&context=faculty_publications
Thus, in connection with the violation of freedom of conscience and religion and the elimination of such violations, the following consequences and appropriate remedies to be taken on these consequences are obtained:
- The actual violations of freedom of conscience and religion are of a regular nature;
- In order to eliminate these violations, substantive changes should be made in the LFRB and the LFRB should be brought into line with fundamental human rights standards;
- A special pre-trial commission should be set up to investigate cases of torture and ill-treatment, and the opinions of this commission shall have a recommendatory legal force for the courts;
- The Commission on Freedom of Conscience should be established under the Ombudsman and the independence and impartiality of this Commission should be ensured, as well as government agencies must have an imperative obligation to co-operate with this Commission;
- The offense liability of state bodies for human rights violations in the Civil Code should be expanded;
- Clear instructions should be prepared to ensure that law enforcement does not interfere with the lifestyle and religious beliefs;
- The release of religious activists listed in the Working Group on the Unified List of Political Prisoners should be ensured.