The week of August 14-18 saw an alleged food safety breach at Wolt in the context of the persecution of labor activists, a debate over dissolved political parties, and international pressure for the immediate release of Gubad Ibadoglu.
Suspension on ‘Wolt’ company due to alleged food safety violations and non-compliance
The Food Safety Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan (AQTA) has reinstated a suspension on the operations of “Volt Azerbaijan” (also known as “Wolt”). This decision follows an inspection that revealed numerous violations of food safety regulations within the company’s food product delivery enterprise.
AQTA’s decision mandates the suspension of food product delivery by the enterprise and enforces restrictive measures, including the exclusion of individuals who have not undergone required medical examinations. The agency emphasizes the importance of transporting and delivering food only through registered and appropriately equipped vehicles, with personnel who have undergone medical evaluations to ensure that public health and consumer rights are safeguarded.
This development follows a series of issues related to transportation companies, with previous protests by couriers of “Wolt” company concerning low service fees and clashes with authorities involving the Workers’ Table, a labor advocacy group, resulting in detentions and arrests of its members on various charges. It is received with suspicion from activists, who believe this decision was strategically taken for a new competitor to enter and dominate the food delivery market.
Ministry of Justice dissolves 13 parties, designates them as non-commercial institutions
The Ministry of Justice has greenlit the dissolution of 13 parties that voluntarily opted to cease their operations. The decision, posted on the ministry’s official website on August 16, specifies that the parties have been officially included in the state register of non-commercial institutions.
The move to dissolve these parties stems from a range of factors, including the passing of prominent figures within parties. Notably, the Independent People’s Party made headlines when its chairman, Aflan Hasanov, submitted charter documents to the Central Election Commission.
Controversy surrounds this dissolution process, with some viewing it as a political decision made by the authorities. Party leaders have voiced their surprise at learning of their parties’ dissolution through media outlets, a situation underscored by the Republican People’s Party Chairman Badraddin Guliyev, who was taken aback by the news. The backdrop to these events includes the adoption of the “On Political Parties” law in December 2022, a move that drew both domestic and international objections, particularly regarding the strict registration requirements for political parties in Azerbaijan.
In a landscape where 59 political parties were registered in the country in 2022, the dissolution of these 13 parties raises questions about the evolving political environment and the ways in which party activities are being evaluated and regulated.
UN Human Rights Office urges Azerbaijan’s government to release detained economist Gubad Ibadoglu
The United Nations Human Rights Office has issued a plea to the Azerbaijani government, calling for the immediate release of economist Gubad Ibadoglu. This appeal, shared on August 16 via the organization’s Twitter account, highlights deep concerns about the well-being of the imprisoned opposition figure and academic, emphasizing the need for appropriate medical treatment and care.
Gubad Ibadoglu’s arrest has garnered international attention, with organizations like the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), Human Rights Watch, and the Human Rights House Foundation expressing their grave apprehension regarding his detention conditions. Influential voices such as Tom Lantos, chair of the Global Human Rights subcommittee in the US Congress, and Christopher Smith, co-chair of the Human Rights Commission, have also joined in urging Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to release Ibadoglu.
The economist was taken into custody on July 23 and subsequently faced a 3-month and 26-day pretrial detention measure on charges related to Article 204.3.1 of the Criminal Code. This charge pertains to the alleged involvement in counterfeit money or securities production, acquisition, or sale by an organized group. Ibadoglu, who serves as the chairman of the ADR party, is one of five individuals accused under this charge.