Friday wrap-up: Limits on foreign currency, an Amnesty International briefing and border tension
The week of 10-14 May saw limits on foreign currency exchange, Amnesty International's briefing and border tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Limits on foreign currency exchange
Azerbaijan's Central Bank has allegedly set a limit on the amount of Manat that can be exchanged into foreign currencies. The maximum amount for exchanging AZN to foreign currencies is about 12,000 USD.
Lawyer Akram Hasanov criticizes the limit as unofficial and added, that “the application of the limit also violates the principle of the banking secret. This is done either on the instructions of government agencies or on the initiative of the banks. Information about transactions should not be shared without the customer's consent”. According to the lawyer, a citizen who wants to get a loan from a bank grants the bank access to information about their other debts, but does not do so during foreign exchange transactions.
Economist Natig Jafarli believes that the ban was imposed by the Central Bank. According to him, it is completely illegal and illogical.
Amnesty International's briefing
On May 12, Amnesty International published a briefing calling on the Azerbaijan government to stop “the vicious campaign of gendered smears and reprisals against women activists.”
The briefing documented systematic attacks trying to silence Azerbaijani activists and their partners. The briefing states that female activists are subjected to smear campaigns and are accused of being “bad wives” or “bad mothers". Additionally, they are blackmailed with threats of leaking private conversations, personal data and materials of a sexual nature. There have been at least fifteen such cases in the last two years, and their number is growing.
Natalia Nozadze, Amnesty’s South Caucasus researcher, stated that, “the pattern and methods of these gendered reprisals and the fact that the targets are women who have exposed human rights violations or been critical of the authorities, strongly indicates that the Azerbaijani authorities are either directly responsible or complicit in these crimes”.
Amnesty International said authorities in the country must end gender-based violence and discrimination targeting women and conduct effective investigations into each and every known incident that took place.
Border tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia
Tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia escalated once again due to an alleged border encroachment. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused Azerbaijani troops on Thursday of encroaching on Armenian territory and claimed that Azerbaijani forces advanced within three kilometres of the border.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry has issued a statement on the situation with Armenia. The statement said that the troops were taking position to strengthen the border protection within the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and they are based on maps defining the border line between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The ministry dismissed all the accusations and called Armenia's reaction “inadequate and proactive”.
The US State Department called both parties to exercise restraint whilst French president Emmanuel Macron has urged Azerbaijan to withdraw its troops from Armenian territory.
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