Last Updated: Wednesday, 09 July 2014, 13:04 GMT

UNHCR CDR Background Paper on Refugees and Asylum Seekers from Azerbaijan

Publisher UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
Author Centre for Documentation and Research
Publication Date 1 September 1995
Cite as UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNHCR CDR Background Paper on Refugees and Asylum Seekers from Azerbaijan, 1 September 1995, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a6490.html [accessed 10 July 2014]
Comments This information paper was prepared in the Country Research and Analysis Unit of UNHCR's Centre for Documentation and Research on the basis of publicly available information, analysis and comment, in collaboration with Regional Bureau Responsible for Somalia and the UNHCR Statistical Unit. All sources are cited. This paper is not, and does not, purport to be, fully exhaustive with regard to conditions in the country surveyed, or conclusive as to the merits of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

Preface

Azerbaijan has been a source country of refugees and asylum-seekers in the past few years. This paper seeks to define the scope, destination, and causes of their movement.

In the first part, the paper provides a statistical overview of refugees and asylum- seekers from Azerbaijan in Western Europe, describing current trends in the number and origin of asylum requests as well as the results of their status determination. The data are derived from government statistics made available to UNHCR and are compiled by its Statistical Unit.

The second part of the paper contains information regarding the conditions in the country of origin, which are often invoked by asylum-seekers when submitting their claim for refugee status. The Country Information Unit of the Centre for Documentation and Research (CDR) conducts its research on the basis of publicly available information, analysis and comment, with all sources cited.

1.   Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Europe

This Chapter provides a statistical overview of refugees and asylum-seekers in Western Europe[1] in general and of refugees and asylum-seekers from Azerbaijan in particular. It is based on official government statistics provided to UNHCR over the period 1990-1994.

The following observations should be taken into consideration when comparing individual asylum statistics from different countries. Firstly, due to the absence of common standards for the compilation of such statistics, the scope for any detailed comparison is limited. For instance, data may refer to individuals or principal applicants ("cases"), to those who submit a request for asylum or to those who are admitted into the asylum procedure. Persons fleeing from former Yugoslavia and benefitting from temporary protection may be included or excluded. Even within countries, comparisons may be hampered due to changing counting practices over the years.

In this Chapter, refugee recognition rates have been calculated by dividing the number of Convention status recognitions ("Recognitions") by the total number of Convention status recognitions and negative decisions ("Rejected"). Humanitarian and other non-Convention status "recognitions", as far as they are reported in the asylum statistics, have been grouped together under one heading ("Allowed").

The general trend indicates an overall decline of new asylum requests in Western Europe, with the exception of a few countries, particularly the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The number of 1951 Convention status recognitions in 1994 (47,400) declined slightly compared to 1993 (48,800), while that for persons allowed to remain for humanitarian reasons decreased slightly from 59,500 to 58,200.

In the case of refugees and asylum-seekers from Azerbaijan, the total recorded number of applications decreased from 630 in 1993 to 510 in 1994, while it had been almost 220 in 1992. Convention status recognition rates of asylum-seekers from Azerbaijan (5 per cent during 1992- 1994) are relatively low compared to overall recognitions (9-11 percent during the same period).

1.1.  Overall Trends in Asylum Applications

In 1994, some 329,000 persons applied for asylum in Europe, 40 per cent less than in 1993 (553,000) (see Table 1). Germany received almost 40 per cent of all the asylum seekers in Europe in 1994 (127,200) which, however, constituted a marked decrease compared to 1993 when nearly 60 per cent (323,000) of all asylum applications were lodged in Germany.

The Netherlands and the United Kingdom[2] accounted for some about 15 per cent of all asylum seekers in Europe during 1994. From 1993 to 1994, both countries more than doubled their share in European asylum applications.

Countries where 5 to 10 per cent of all applications in Europe were lodged during 1994 include France (8%), Sweden (6%), Switzerland (5%), and Belgium (4%). Countries with 2 per cent or less of all applications include Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Norway, Greece and Portugal.

From 1993 to 1994, the following changes in the number of asylum seekers by country were recorded in Europe: Austria (+7%), Belgium (-43%), Denmark (-54%), Finland (-58%), France (-6%), Germany (-61%), Greece (+60%), Italy (-7%), Netherlands (+49%), Norway (-74%), Portugal (-65%), Spain (-2%), Sweden (-50%), Switzerland (-33%), United Kingdom (+51%).

1.2   Trends in Convention Status Recognition

Some 47,400 persons were granted Convention refugee status in Europe during 1994, slightly less than in 1993 (48,800). In 1994, Germany granted refugee status to some 25,600 persons, 56 per cent more than in 1993, and more than half of all persons granted Convention status recognition in Europe.

The Netherlands and France each granted Convention refugee status to more than 6,000 persons (14 per cent) of the European total. Countries which accorded between 1,000 and 3,000 Convention recognitions include Switzerland (3,000), United Kingdom (1,400) and Belgium (1,500). The following countries granted Convention refugee status to less than 1,000 persons during 1994: Sweden (790), Austria (680), Spain (630), Denmark (540), Italy (300), Greece (90), Finland (20), Norway (20) and Portugal (10).

During 1990-1994, Belgium, France and the Netherlands had Convention recognition rates which were at least twice as high compared to overall rate in Europe (10 per cent). In Germany the Convention recognition rate doubled from 5 to 10 per cent during 1993-1994 (see Table 2).

1.3   Trends in Non-Convention Recognition

During 1994,about 58,000 persons were allowed to remain for humanitarian reasons, 20 per cent more than the number of persons granted Convention status recognition. Between 1990 and 1994 the number of Convention refugee recognitions increased by 63 per cent, while the number of non-Convention recognitions increased by 350 per cent. Sweden accounted for 64 per cent (36,560) of all "humanitarian recognitions" during 1994 (including 17,950 asylum seekers who were allowed to stay under a special "amnesty" in April 1994).

1.4   Asylum Applications of Nationals from Azerbaijan

Asylum applications of nationals from Azerbaijan in Europe were recorded for the first time in 1992. During 1994, 510 nationals of Azerbaijan sought asylum in Europe, down from 630 the year before. Germany's share in the total number of applications fell from 95 per cent in 1992 to 73 per cent in 1994. The Netherlands was the second largest recipient country accounting for 10 per cent (140) claims of asylum-seekers from Azerbaijan (Table 3).

1.5   Convention Status Recognitions for Nationals from Azerbaijan

During 1992-1994,40 nationals from Azerbaijan were reported to have been granted 1951 Convention refugee status in Europe, some 30 of whom were accepted by Germany. A comparison of Table 2 and 4 indicates that Convention status recognitions for nationals from Azerbaijan (4 to 6 per cent) were significantly lower than for all nationalities (11 per cent) (Table 4).

1.6   Nationals from Azerbaijan Allowed to Remain for Humanitarian Reasons

Less than 40 nationals from Azerbaijan were reported to have been allowed to remain for humanitarian reasons during 1994, most of whom are in Sweden.

2.   Country Profile

2.1   Basic Country Information

The Republic of Azerbaijan formally declared independence in December 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Before independence Azerbaijan was one of the fifteen Soviet Socialist Republics of the former USSR. A referendum in March 1991 showed that a majority of Azerbaijanis were in favour of preserving the Soviet Union. However, the failure of the August 1991 coup d'état in Moscow led to renewed calls for independence and, on 18 October 1991, Azerbaijan declared independence (The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), 1994, 51), which became formally recognized at the end of 1991 when the USSR ceased to exist. The population of Azerbaijan is 7,2 million (1992).

The name Azerbaijan derives from the adjacent province of Iran across the Araks river, parts of which were transferred to Russia from the Persian Empire in the 1800's. The use of the term 'Azeri' for the Muslim peoples of the region "first appeared in Transcaucasia in the early 1900's and was eventually accepted as the official designation, a natural consequence of the creation of the Azerbaijan Autonomous Republic (ASSR) [within the Russian Federation] in 1920" (Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project, July 1993, 66).

National consciousness in Azerbaijan has been fostered both by the concentration of Azeris (86% of whom lived in 1979 in their native republic, a further 4,7% living in Georgia and 2,9% in Armenia at that time) and by the strength of the Azeri language vis-a-vis Russian (in the former Soviet Union 97,9% of Azeris communicated in their native language, whereas only 1,8% recognized Russian as their first language and only 29,5% spoke it well) (The Stateman's Yearbook, 1989, 1264). The events in Nagorno-Karabakh, a mostly Armenian-populated region of Azerbaijan and the central dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia, have dominated the reports coming from Azerbaijan since 1988 and have also served as a catalyst for a more general resurgence of Azerbaijani nationalism. At the same time, "[t]he modern state of Azerbaijan is a poor fit with Azeri national identity. Most Azeris do not live in Azerbaijan; at least 10 million to 12 million live in the northern provinces of Iran, about twice as many as live in the former [Soviet Socialist] Republic of Azerbaijan" (Current History, January 1993).

In 1989 Azeris constituted 82.7% of the population of the Republic, which had three significant minority groups: equal numbers of Armenians and Russians (about 400,000 or 5.6%) and Dagestani people (205,000 or 3.4%, mostly Shiite Lezghins) (Britannica Book of the Year 1993, 1993, 557). There is a small minority of Tats or Mountain Jews (9,000 or 1% in 1979), an Iranian people converted to Judaism. The majority of Azeris (some 70%) are Shi'ite Muslims; most of the remainder are Sunni (Hanafi school) (Eastern Europe and the CIS, 1994, 159).

The main political parties are the Azerbaijan Popular Front (APF); the Communist Party of Azerbaijan; the Independent Azerbaijan Party; Istiklal - National Independence party; the Musavat – 'Equality' Muslim Democratic Party; the Social Democratic Group; United Azerbaijan, and Yeni Azerbaijan - New Azerbaijan.

According to the CSCE Digest, there are over 40 registered political parties in Azerbaijan, which are expected to participate in parliamentary elections scheduled for 12 November 1995, despite the absence of an approved election law (July 1995). Many of these parties, including the Popular Front and Musavat, claim to encouter frequent "difficulties in organizing demonstrations and meetings with voters, and in issuing their publications" (Ibid., July 1995). Moreover, government officials allegedly regard the Popular Front and Musavat responsible for the attempted coup d'états in March and October 1994, thereby raising fears that they will be banned from participating in the forthcoming elections (Ibid.).

As regards the economy, little serious effort was made in Azerbaijan to tackle structural or fiscal issues until recently (The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), 2nd quarter 1995, 32). The EIU forecasts that GDP will decline this year, for the seventh year in a row, by 10% (Ibid.). According to President H.Aliev, "[c]orruption and bribery which have blighted the state bodies are the main obstacle barring the inflow of foreign investment to Azerbaijan" (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 18 April 1995).

Azerbaijan is a major producer of oil. A recent oil production contract involving nine foreign companies, signed in September 1994, was hailed as "Azerbaijan's ticket to total economic independence". However, legal issues surrounding the status of the Caspian Sea, last-minute Russian involvement in the contract and uncertainty about a politically acceptable, safe route to pipe the oil, all mixed with uncertain internal politics cast doubt over the long-term validity of the contract (Russia Briefing, 30 November 1994; EIU, Country Profile 1994-1995, 54).

In matters related to the post-Soviet area as a whole, President Aliev praised the CIS cooperation agreement recently signed in Georgia and called for enhanced intra-CIS security cooperation, suggesting that the CIS should evolve into a "kind of state", according to Interfax. This represented a shift in Baku's earlier reluctant stance on CIS integration efforts and Russian regional and security interests (Covcas Bulletin, 7 June 1995, 14-15).

2.2 Background to Independence and the Rise of the Azerbaijan Popular Front

Events that took place in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, in January 1990, which prompted the intervention of Soviet armed forces, occurred against the background of growing tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia, specifically over the plight of Azeris in Armenia and the fate of the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave of Azerbaijan. There was also a direct link between tensions over Nagorno-Karabakh and the appearance and growth of influence of the Azerbaijan Popular Front (APF).

Some reports date the genesis of the Armenian-Azeri conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh to February 1988 when the first demonstrations were reported in Armenia with demands to incorporate Nagorno-Karabakh into Armenia (Human Rights Watch, September 1992, 5; Pax Christi Netherlands, 29 September 1991, 25). The increase in Azeri-Armenian ethnic hostility was directly connected to these demands and the resulting mistreatment of Azeris in Armenia and Armenians in Azerbaijan.

In November-December 1988, a mass demonstration took place in Baku's central square in which hundreds of thousands of Azeris heard speakers call for an end to the expulsion of their compatriots from Armenia, an end to the repression of religion, reunification with their perceived co-nationals in Iranian Azerbaijan, democracy, national sovereignty, freedom of the press, and political pluralism. Although these demonstrations continued for two weeks without interruption, they were orderly and free of violence (SIPRI Yearbook 1992, 1992, 531- 57; U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service's Resource Information Center (INS RIC), August 1993).

The major consequence of these public demonstrations was that political organizations separate from the Azerbaijan Communist Party began to form, foremost of which was the Azerbaijan Popular Front (APF, also referred to as the Popular Front or Azerbaijan People's Front). The Popular Front was established not only to defend the Azerbaijani position over Nagorno-Karabakh but also to advance the economic independence of the republic (Revolutionary and Dissident Movements, 1991, 357). The APF developed local organizations throughout Azerbaijan; its major initiatives throughout 1989 consisted of insisting that "the provisions of the Soviet-Iran Treaty, which had been ratified the year before, be fulfilled (meaning that border crossing points into Iranian Azerbaijan be opened and contacts between Azeris from Iran and the Soviet Union be broadened), that Armenia allow the return of Azeris who had been expelled from their homes in the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic and that they be compensated for the loss or damage to their property, and that Azerbaijan retain full sovereign rights over the territory of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast" (INS RIC, August 1993).

The conflict between the authorities and the Azerbaijan Popular Front reached its conclusion with the banning in March 1995 of the activities of the APF. The party's television station was ordered to cease broadcasting from 27 March (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 27 March 1995). Overall, at least 200 people were arrested in connection with the events of March 1995 (Agence France Presse, 17 and 18 March 1995). New trials of APF members and detentions of journalists were reported in May 1995 (Covcas Bulletin, 24 May 1995). One month after the events, a prominent opposition spokeswoman, L.Yunusova, accused the Azerbaijan government of establishing a police state. Yunusova said more than 500 opponents of the regime accused of anti-government activities remained in jails and censorship was a deteriorating problem (Covcas Bulletin, 10 May 1995). The state of emergency, imposed in October 1994, remains in force.

Azerbaijan is preparing for new parliamentary elections which are to be held in November 1995. They shall be preceded by a referendum on a new constitution of the country.

2.3   The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

The present Armenian-Azeri conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh has deep historical roots and is seen by some as "simply the latest step in a protracted struggle between Christian Armenians and Turkic Muslims in the Caucasus" (Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project, July 1993, 67). The ethnically Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast comprises roughly 1,700 square miles of mountainous terrain in southwestern Azerbaijan. Both, Armenia and Azerbaijan argue over the history of Nagorno-Karabakh. According to the 1989 census, Nagorno-Karabakh's population was approximately 75 percent ethnic Armenian (145,000) and 25 percent Azeri (40,688). Although granted the status of an autonomous oblast in Azerbaijan, Armenians living in Karabakh alleged that they suffered discrimination and had little decision-making power. In 1988, demonstrations in both, Yerevan and Stepanakert called for the union of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Violence quickly broke out, degenerating into a full-scale war by early 1992 (Human Rights Watch, December 1994, xiv).

By mid-1992, Karabakh Armenian troops had forced out all of Nagorno-Karabakh's Azeri population. The Armenian army sided with Karabakh Armenian troops and made large advances deep into Azeri territory, leading to internal unrest that contributed to two presidential changes. With 17,000 killed and 50,000 wounded, the conflict has created more than 500,000 refugees from both sides (War Report, June 1995, 43), most of them fleeing to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia and other CIS countries. The RFE/RL Research Report spoke of the war costing "the lives of an estimated 20,000 Azerbaijanis and thousands more Armenians and creating more than 1 million refugees (10 June 1994). The refugee population, at the end of 1994, included 228,840 Azeris who fled Armenia, mostly in 1988. There were also some 50,000 Meskhetian Turks who fled from Uzbekistan in 1989. Internally displaced Azerbaijanis numbered at least 630,000 (UNHCR, IV-1994, 24). In all, an estimated 10 to 15 percent of Azerbaijan's total population of 7,5 million were refugees or displaced persons ' (U.S. Committee for Refugees, 1995, 126).

All three belligerents in the conflict (Karabakh, Armenia, Azerbaijan) have all been accused of violating the rules of war. Human Rights Watch asserted that

Karabakh Armenian violations of the rules of war . . . include the following: forced displacement of [the] Azeri population by means of indiscriminate and targeted shelling of civilian populations; capture of civilian stragglers; looting and burning of civilian homes; the taking of and holding of hostages; and the mistreatment and likely summary execution of prisoners of war and other captives.

The Republic of Armenia's violations of the rules of war . . . include grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions: holding hostages; and the likely killing of prisoners of war. Armenian forces are also alleged to have taken hostages.

Azerbaijani violations of the rules of war . . . include indiscriminate use of air power resulting in civilian casualties; hostage-taking; and the mistreatment and likely execution of prisoners. Hostage-taking and mistreatment of prisoners are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions (December 1994, ix).

Amnesty International added its voice stating that "[t]here have been many reports of torture and ill-treatment in detention" (1 June 1994).

There have been numerous attempts to stop the fighting. A 12 May 1994 ceasefire, despite several breaches, seems to have been generally holding for the past year. During the latest round of OSCE-sponsored peace talks, Azerbaijan and Armenia have not discussed the future status of Nagorno- Karabakh, but instead focussed on the return of a part of Azerbaijan's territory (the Lachin corridor) to Azerbaijan's control (The Monitor, 31 July 1995). Azerbaijan's parliamentary speaker R.Guliyed was quoted as saying that Baku would like to settle the Karabakh conflict by peaceful means, but "if the aggressor does not wish to liberate our lands by peaceful means, we have no other choice but to search for other ways to free the territories captured" (The Monitor, 1 August 1995). A writer for the War Report of apparently Armenian origin said that

[a]s both sides become increasingly tired of the war and the military situation, the chances for a political agreement are increasing. If negotiations fail and hostilities intensify, both Armenia and Azerbaijan would find it difficult to mobilise their scarce resources for war again. Thus, a gradual shift towards a political settlement of the Karabakh conflict is seen as imminent. This would be desirable for the whole region (June 1995, 43).

In a subsequent article, another observer, writing from Baku, defended the Azeri point of view commenting that "[c]urrent negotiations have a tendency to freeze the status quo in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, which in turn will promote the radicalization of the respective societies. . .. No level of Azerbaijani society welcomes the attempts to extract even more concessions from Azerbaijan on the Shusha region (within Karabakh itself) and the Lachin region (between Karabakh and Armenia) that before the war were mostly Azeri-populated" (Ibid., 44).

One assessment of the conflict in the Encyclopedia of Conflicts stressed that "this conflict is based on territorial disputes and that the political factor is stronger that any other. The main problem has never been religion or ethnicity, rather, it is the lack of democracy and the lack of political maturity on both sides. The present tragedy in the region could have been avoided, and the Karabakh problem could have been solved peacefully, if both sides had tried to reach a solution through democratic means and through mutual agreement and understanding" (1993, 241).

3.   The Human Rights Situation

3.1.  International Legal Framework

Azerbaijan has acceded to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (CSR51) (12 February 1993) and the 1967 Protocol (12 February 1993); the Convention on the Rights of the Child (13 August 1992); the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (13 August 1992) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (13 August 1992).

Azerbaijan is not a party to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Convention on Discrimination Against Women; the Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide; the Convention on Elimination of Racial Discrimination; and the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture.

3.2   General Respect for Human Rights

The current situation in the country is summarized by this assessment made in February 1995 by the U.S. Department of State as regards human rights in Azerbaijan:

[T]he police and the Ministry of National Security were responsible for widespread human rights abuses, including beating and detaining persons arbitrarily, conducting searches and seizures without warrants, and suppressing peaceful demonstrations. The Government waged a harsh campaign to suppress the political opposition and to censor the press. Security authorities beat detainees and demonstrators and arrested persons arbitrarily (1995).

The Economist Intelligence Unit concurs:

Police continue to deal harshly with any manifestations of dissent – intimidating journalists, detaining opposition activists and raiding the premises of several opposition parties (2nd quarter 1995, 26).

Earlier, Human Rights Watch had asserted that the government of President Aliev "instead of living up to [earlier] pledges, presided over waves of arrests, police beatings and censorship aimed at individuals and organizations in Azerbaijan's political opposition, mainly the APF" (1993, 197).

Amnesty International reports that "throughout the year [1994] opposition figures alleged that many of their number were imprisoned solely for their peaceful opposition to the government . . . Reports of ill-treatment in pre-trial detention continued, but restricted access made verification difficult (1994, 65).

Freedom of Speech

There is additional evidence of restrictions on the freedom of the media: the headquarters of an opposition newspaper, "Azadlig", was raided by police with five journalists detained for several hours (La Lettre des reporteurs sans frontieres, June 1994). Also, the only nominally independent television station, BMTI, had been reportedly ordered to cease broadcasting (Keesing's Record of World Events for 1994, 1994, 40020). The U.S. Department of State concludes that "[w]hile the Government tolerates the existence of independent media and political parties, it has demonstrated a disregard for the right for freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association when it has deemed it in its interest to do so" (Country Reports for 1994, 1995).

Freedom of Religion

Azerbaijan defines itself as a secular state. The Law On Religious Freedom was put into effect on August 20, 1992, whereby church and state are considered to be separate and the freedom to worship and believe what one wishes is emphasized strongly (INS RIC, August 1993). The only restriction placed on religious practices is specified in Article One, which states that:

Only in necessary cases can limitations be placed on the practice of freedom of religious belief when required for the protection of rights and freedoms, considerations of state and public security and international commitments of the Azerbaijan Republic.

The meaning of "necessary cases" remains undefined (Ibid.).

3.3   The Situation of Minorities

Russians

Russians now form the largest minority in Azerbaijan. However, a sharp decline in the number of Russians has been recorded over the past years - from 450,000 in 1989 to around 100,000 in late 1993. The main causes provoking the departure of Russians were said to be the dire economic situation, the pressure from the increasing number of Azeri refugees who illegally occupied their apartments, and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Azerbaijan (Russia Briefing, 25 January 1994). While the government of Azerbaijan appears strongly committed to protecting the rights of ethnic Russians in Azerbaijan, the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe of the U.S. Congress reports that some societal-level hostility toward Russians and Russian-speakers exists. Among the issues raised were incidents in which Azeri refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh seized apartments belonging to non-Azeris (a few Azeris also had their apartments seized), and hostility toward Russians married to or otherwise connected with Armenians (U.S. Congress, Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, January 1993).

Armenians

Following the pogroms of Armenians in Sumgait and Baku in 1990, the Armenian population of Azerbaijan, which at one time totalled some 500,000, virtually ceased to exist. There are over 180,000 Armenians living on the territory of the nominally Azerbaijan enclave of Nagorno- Karabakh. As regards the position of Armenians in Azeri society, the U.S. Department of State report states that "[a]lthough harassment of ethnic Armenians outside Nagorno-Karabakh – by individual Azerbaijanis rather than as deliberate government policy – has subsided considerably, that community continues to live in fear and uncertainty" (1995). The report noted incidents of Armenian churches having been vandalized.

Jews

The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service's Resource Information Center report on Azerbaijan states that "[w]hile all sources appear to agree that the Azerbaijani government is making a sincere effort to guarantee the rights of Jews in Azerbaijan, and all agree that there is some societal hostility against Jews in Azerbaijan which the government has been unable to control, there are differences in perceptions of the level or extent of societal hostility against Jews (August 1993). According to the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board Documentation, Information and Research Branch report on the status of Jews in the various republics of the former Soviet Union, "there is no long history of anti-Semitism in Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan", and the report quotes a former Jewish resident of Baku stating in January 1992 that Azerbaijan, of the former Soviet republics, was "perhaps the best place for Jews to live." (IRB, July 1992) In June 1992, members of the Helsinki Commission staff met with representatives of Baku's Jewish community and reported that Jews made no complaint about restrictions on their freedom of religion. Several synagogues were opened in the country (INS RIC, August 1993).

The U.S. Department of State did not note any discrimination against Jews in Azerbaijan (Country Reports for 1994, 1995). The Institute of Jewish Affairs came to the same conclusion, stating in its annual Antisemitism World Report that "[t]here were few indications that antisemitism was a widespread problem in the country" (1994, 138).

Lezghins

According to the Europa YearBook, citing a 1989 census, the "Lezghi" minority group made up 2.4 per cent of the population of Azerbaijan in 1991 (1994, 442). The World Directory of Minorities groups "Lezghins" among the "Daghestani" people of Azerbaijan, who in 1979 collectively numbered 205,000 and made up 3.4 per cent of the population of Azerbaijan (1990, 147). A table entitled "Nationalities of the USSR in 1979" in The Soviet Multinational State: Readings and Documents (Olcott, 1990, 600) also lists "Lezghians" among the "Peoples of Daghestan", and numbers the Lezghian population throughout the then-USSR at 382,611. The table also states that the "peoples of Daghestan" are mostly Sunni Muslim, a statement corroborated by the INS (August 1993, 19), The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1977, 461), and a report by the Islamic Republic News Agency covered by the BBC Summary of World Broadcasts (23 May 1994), but contradicted by the World Directory of Minorities, which describes the "Lezghins" as "mostly Shi'ite" (1990, 147). There are several political movements amongst the Lezghins, some of which speak in favour of the unification of all Lezghin lands inside the Russian Federation (Russia Briefing, 25 January 1994). Another source, however, indicates that the Lezghins have organized two national political organizations:

The Sadval, which seeks to create an independent Lezg[h]inistan within Daghestan; and the Samur, a Baku-sponsored group that has taken a more moderate line, insisting only on greater cultural protections of Lezg[h]ins regardless of where they live (PRISM, 2 June 1995)

The same source adds that on 14-15 June 1994 there were clashes between Lezgin (Sadval) protesters and police in the Azerbaijaini region of Gubar, after which the demonstrators demanded the recall of all Lezgin draftees into the military (Ibid.). The events of June 1994 allegedly continue to generate tension between the Azerbaijaini government and the Lezgins, with the latter said to believe that they are victims of ethnic discrimination (Ibid.).

Talysh

The Talysh are an ethnic group living in the Talysh mountains in northern Iran and Azerbaijan. The Soviet census of 1989 stated their number as 22,000 (The Encyclopedia of the People's of the World, 1993, 583). In June 1993, a former Popular Front leader and a colonel in the Azerbaijan army, Ali Akram Hummatov, declared a separate republic of Talysh-Mugansk in Lenokoran port and seven other districts and set up border posts with Azerbaijan. The government claimed to have crushed the rebellion in August 1993, but "though the Talysh uprising appeared short-lived it illustrated the fragile cords holding Azerbaijan together, and the ease with which the country could be carved up in the power struggle both among former communists and between former communists and democrats" (Goldenberg, 1994, 128). Hummatov was arrested in December 1993 (ITAR-TASS, 9 December 1993).

Kurds

There is a large population of Kurds who have been living in the mountainous lands between Karabakh and Armenia for centuries. The estimates of this population range from 200,000 and 500,000 (Current History, January 1993). Under pressure from the Azeris to assimilate, the Kurds have been caught in the middle of the Armenian-Azeri war. In June 1992, the leader of the Caucasian Kurds, R.Mustafayev, declared an independent republic of Kurdistan. Apparently, Kurdish fighters have been helping Armenian forces keep open a supply corridor between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh running through Azerbaijan's territory (Ibid.).

3.4   Draft Evaders/Deserters

Desertion from the armed forces has become commonplace after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Ethnic discrimination and ethnic conflict as well as demands that soldiers take oaths of allegiance to states other than their native one constitute the major reasons for desertion. Most deserters from the armed forces are conscripts fleeing from the North Caucasus, the Transcaucasus and the Baltic states. Further, there are reports of servicemen being assaulted in areas plagued by ethnic conflicts. One article refers to some of these deserters as "refugees in military uniforms" (Sovetskaya Rossiya, 10 January 1992, 1). There is no common position on classifying deserters from the armed forces. A commander of a gathering point for deserters was quoted as saying that "[o]ne is classified as a deserter only when found guilty by the military court . . . For now, we are simply dealing with runaways who left their army units without authorization" (Krasnaya Zvezda, 4 March 1992, 2). The treatment of those who leave their units appears to be quite arbitrary, depending to a great extent on the area to which they relocate, and possibly on their rank (IRB, June 1992).

In November 1993 the BBC Summary of World Broadcasts reported that the authorities in Azerbaijan were planning to introduce harsher measures against deserters by the setting up of penal battalions. The report gave an illustration of the scale of desertion in the Azerbaijan's army stating that out of 2,000 servicemen in the Zangelanskiy rayon, 1,950 people left their combat positions (8 November 1993). Amendments to the law on armed forces, introduced by parliament in December 1993 stiffened punishments for violation of military discipline. For instance, the evasion from the call-up for military service would be punishable by imprisonment from five to seven years, and under more serious circumstances up to 10 years. Unauthorized leave of one's military unit envisages an imprisonment of up to 15 years, and in special cases, capital punishment (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 9 December 1993).

As for conscientious objectors to military service, Amnesty International announced in June 1992 that Article 9 of the new law, On the Armed Forces of the Azerba[ija]ni Republic of 9 October 1991 "provides for an alternative service lasting two years for young men aged between 18 and 25 who, for reasons of conscience, refuse to perform military service" (June 1992).

In telephone interviews, both Amnesty International and War Resisters International spokespersons indicated that the above information remains unchanged (4 September 1995).

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Report 1995, London, 1995

___,

Report 1994, London, 1994

___,

Report 1991, London, 1991

Britannica Book of the Year 1993,

Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, 1993

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts,

"UNHCR envoy in Azerbaijan says refugees situation "desperate", 5 June 1995

___,

"Azerbaijani parliamentary elections to take place in October", 18 April 1995

___,

"Azerbaijan bans opposition party's activities", 27 March 1995

___,

"Former Azerbaijani foreign minister detained after coup", 24 March 1994

___,

"Two opposition members expelled from Azerbaijani parliament" 2 June 1994

___,

"Azerbaijani People's Front deputy chairman arrested, members reportedly tortured", 24 February 1994

___,

"Azerbaijani People's Front members arrested", 22 December 1993

___,

"Azerbaijan amends law on armed forces", 9 December 1993

___,

"Azerbaijani authorities planning "penal battalions" to deal with deserters", 8 November 1993

___,

"Azerbaijani People's Front leaders arrested", 25 September 1993

___,

"Opposition leader says human right abuses in Azerbaijan on the rise", 16 August 1993

___,

"Police break up Azerbaijani People's front meeting; 300 reported arrested", 19 July 1993

Covcas Bulletin,

"Azerbaijaini intellectuals appeal to President for press freedom" Vol. V No. 13, 21 June 1995

___,

"Aliyev transformed?", Vol. V, No.12, 7 June 1995

___, ,

"Seven APF members sentenced", Vol. 5, No. 11, 24 May 1995

___,

"Azerbaijan on the way to dictatorship", Vol. V, No. 10, 10 May 1995

CSCE Digest,

"President Aliev promises free and fair elections in Azerbaijan", Vol. 18, No. 6, 5 July 1995

Current History,

"Armenia and Azerbaijan: Looking toward the Middle East", January 1993

Documentation, Information and Research Branch,

Immigration and Refugee Board, Questions and Answer Series, CIS, Georgia and the Baltic States: Military Service", Ottawa, July 1992

Documentation Française,

"Ex-URSS: les états du divorce", 1993

Eastern Europe and the CIS 1994,

Europa Publications, London, 1994

Economist Intelligence Unit,

Country Report, 2nd quarter 1995, London, 1995

Economist Intelligence Unit,

Country Profile 1994-95, London, 1994

Encyclopedia of Conflicts, Disputes and Flashpoints in Eastern Europe, Russia and the Successor States,

Longman, Harlow (UK) 1993

The Encyclopedia of the Peoples of the World,

Henri Holt, Jerusalem, 1993

Europa YearBook 1995,

Europa Publications, London 1994

Goldenberg S.,

Pride of Small Nations, Zed Books, London, 1994,

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia,

Vol. 14, MacMillan, New York, 1973

Helsinki Watch,

"Bloodshed in the Caucasus", New York, September 1992

Human Rights Watch/Helsinki,

Azerbaijan: Seven Years of Conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, New York, December 1994

Human Rights Watch,

World Report 1994, New York, 1993

Institute of Jewish Affairs,

Antisemitism World Report 1994, London, 1994

ITAR-TASS,

"Azerbaijan arrests rebel leader", 9 December 1993

___,

"Aliyev elected Azerbaijani president", 6 October 1993

Journal of Peace Research,

"The New Russian Diaspora: Minority Protection in the Soviet Successor States", May 1993

Keesing's Record of World Events for 1995,

Cartermill, Harlow: (U.K.), 1995

Keesing's Record of World Events for 1994,

Longman, Harlow (U.K.), 1994

Keesing's Record of World Events for 1990,

Longman, Harlow: (U.K.), 1990

Krasnaya Zvezda,

"Begut iz Armii soldaty...Kuda? Otkuda? Pochemu? [Soldiers Are Fleeing the Army... Where to? From Where? Why?], 4 March 1992

La lettre de reporteurs sans frontières,

June 1994

Middle East International,

"Elchibey brings on his own downfall", 9 July 1993

The Monitor,

Jamestown Foundation, Washington, D.C., August 1995

___,

Jamestown Foundation, Washington, D.C., 31 July 1995

Olcott M., ed.,

The Soviet Multinational State: Readings and Documents, M.E. Sharpe, Armonk, New York 1990

Pax Christi Netherlands,

Human Rights Violations in Armenia and Azerbaijan, 29 September 1991

PRISM,

"An ethnic challenge to international borders", Washington, D.C., 2 June 1995

Reuters,

"Opposition says Azerbaijan cracks down on dissent", 2 April 1995

___,

"Azeri leader says coup plotters face punishment", 19 March 1995

___,

"Azerbaijan axes elite police unit after mutiny", 14 March 1995

___,

"Azerbaijan minister arrested on coup charges", 16 October 1994

___,

"Azeri leader consolidates power after coup threat", 6 October 1994

___,

"Azeri parliament votes to back sacking of PM", 6 October 1994

___,

"Oil-rich Azerbaijan declares state of emergency", 3 October 1994

___,

"Two Azeri officials killed in assassinations", 30 September 1994

Revolutionary and Dissident Movements,

An international guide, Longman publications ltd., Harlow (U.K.), 1991

RFE/RL Research report,

"The Karabakh Mediation Process: Grachev versus the CSCE?", 10 June 1994

Russia Briefing,

Regional Survey: Nakhichevan, 30 June 1995

___,

"Azerbaijan: Behind the Oil Deal" 30 November 1994

___,

Regional Survey: Azerbaijan, 25 January 1994

SIPRI Yearbook 1992,

World Armaments and Disarmament, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992

Sovetskaya Rossiya,

"Zhivem, kak na vulkane [We Live 'on the Edge of a Volcano'],10 January 1992,

Stateman's Year-book 1989-90,

London: MacMillan, 1989

Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project,

"Back in the USSR", Russia's Intervention in the Internal Affairs of the Former Soviet Republics and the Implications for the Unites States Policy Towards Russia,Cambridge: Harvard University, January 1994

Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project,

Report on Ethnic Conflict in the Russian Federation and Transcaucasia, Cambridge: Harvard University, July 1993

UNHCR,

"Refugees", Vol. IV, No. 98, Geneva, 1994

United Press International,

"Opposition politicians arrested in Azerbaijan", 5 March 1994

U.S. Committee for Refugees,

World Refugee Survey, Washington, D.C., 1995

U.S. Congress,

Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, "Implementation of the Helsinki Accords: Human Rights and Democratization in the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union", Washington, DC., January 1993

U.S. Immigration Naturalization Service, Resource Information Center (INS RIC),

"Azerbaijan: Status of Russians, Armenians, Jews and Other Minorities", Washington D.C., August 1993

U.S. Department of State,

Country Reports for Human Rights Practices for 1994, Washington D.C., 1995

___,

Country Reports for Human Rights Practices for 1993, Washington D.C., 1994

War Report,

"Edging Towards the Big Agreement", June 1995

___,

"Fragile Cease-fire", June 1995

War Resisters International,

 telephone interview, 4 September 1995

World Directory of Minorities,

Minority Rights Group, London, 1991

Annex I - Recent Political Developments

The Demonstrations in Baku in January 1990

Mass demonstrations in Baku of tens of thousands of APF supporters occurred on 8 January 1990. The demonstrators, "most of them refugees from Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, criticized the Azerbaijani Communist party leadership for acquiescing to the central Soviet authorities' retaining responsibility for security in Nagorno-Karabakh..." (Keesing's Record of World Events for 1990, 37169). Anger spread culminating in an anti-Armenian pogrom in Baku. Intercommunal fighting erupted almost immediately in other parts of Azerbaijan. After a decision by the USSR Supreme Soviet Presidium to despatch Army, Navy and Interior Ministry troops to "halt the violence", some 5,000 regular troops, with an additional 6,660 Interior Ministry troops were sent to join over 6,000 Interior Ministry troops already in Azerbaijan (Ibid.). The INS RIC described this action by the central authorities in the following way:

Soviet troops, allegedly responding to reports of a pogrom directed against the Armenian inhabitants of Baku, intervened in Baku and declared a state of martial law. At this point, the Communist Party of Azerbaijan had lost the majority of its rank and file membership due not only to the military occupation of Baku, but also to the ineffectiveness of the Gorbachev regime in dealing with the NKAO [Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast] and the Armenian-Azeri ethnic clashes (August 1993).

Helsinki Watch was less circumspect in its account of the events:

In January 1990 USSR troops stormed Baku, the Azerbaijani capital, purportedly to protect Armenians, but more likely to put down the Popular Front (September 1992, 5).

Another portrayal of the same incident went even further in assessing the actions of Soviet government troops:

At night, on 19-20 January [1990], Soviet troops attacked Baku in military actions that resulted in between 83 (official) and several hundred (unofficial) deaths. One of the aims of this military action was to suppress the Popular Front, which had already gained great popularity among the population and threatened the existence of the traditional communist government of President Mutalibov (Encyclopedia of Conflicts, 1993, 233).

By end-January 1990 order was restored after "leading members of the APF had been arrested, other radical nationalist organizations outlawed and decrees issued banning all strikes, rallies and demonstrations" (Eastern Europe and the CIS 1994, 1994, 148). Amnesty International corroborates this information by stating that "hundreds of supporters of the Popular Front of Azerbaydzhan [sic] were reportedly arrested when troops moved into the republic's capital, Baku, following violent disorders in January. Many were apparently charged with "inciting racial hatred" and "organizing mass disorders". Many appeared to have been released, possibly pending trial, by the end of year" (1991, 234).

These tactics of the central Soviet government, allegedly aimed against the APF, could also find confirmation in the apparent support Moscow gave Azerbaijan in the conflict with Armenia, especially in the Spring of 1991 (Documentation Française, 1993, 12).

First Years of Independence

When the Soviet Union dissolved itself in December 1991, the former First Secretary of the Azerbaijan Communist Party, Ayaz Mutalibov, was elected President of Azerbaijan in an uncontested election. A few months later, under charges that the election had been rigged and "that Mutalibov's clique of former Communists was impeding the development of democracy in the country", the President was forced to resign (INS RIC, August 1993). The 360-seat Supreme Soviet was suspended in May 1992 and replaced by an interim legislature, the Milli Mijlis, with 50 former members of the Supreme Soviet. A nationally elected presidency was introduced in June 1992 (Keesing's Record of World Events, 1995, R98). New elections were held in June 1992. Abulfez Elchibey, the candidate from the APF, was elected President. In June 1993, however, an armed rebellion by Azeri troops in Gyandzh and their march on Baku led to the election of the country's former communist party leader, Heidar Aliev, as Chairman of Parliament. Elchibey fled to his home village of Keleki in Nackhichevan. A new government was formed by the 34-year old leader of the rebels and new premier, S. Huseinov. In an interview with The Washington Times, President Elchibey's former Secretary of State, A.Kerimov, suggested that the coup d'etat in Baku occurred as a direct result of President Elchibey's refusal to accept Moscow's demands that Russian forces be returned to Azerbaijan under the guise of an international peacekeeping force (quoted in Strengthening Democratic Institutions Project, January 1994). Middle East International wrote that the blame for the troubles of President Elchibey could not be entirely put either on the Karabakh conflict or on Russian actions. "Some deep-rooted causes related to Azerbaijan's basic ethno-linguistic and geographical characteristics, plus some serious domestic and foreign policy mistakes by Elchibey's government in the last year, have all contributed to the [crisis in the country]" (9 July 1993).

In August 1993 Elchibey lost in a no-confidence referendum and Aliev was confirmed as president of Azerbaijan during elections on 3 October 1993 (Russia Briefing, 25 January 1994; ITAR-TASS, 6 October 1993). Aliev's advent to power was marked by an intensification of activities of the security apparatus, especially against supporters of the APF. Even before the election of H.Aliev as president, in July 1993, police broke up a meeting of the Azerbaijan People's Front and reportedly detained 300 people (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 19 July 1993). In August the leader of the Musavat party, N.Ibragimov, said that "methods of oppression and strong-arm pressure against one's political opponents are being applied in Azerbaijan. Headquarters of opposition parties are being smashed. People are being arrested without a procurator's warrant" (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 16 August 1993). Fresh reports of arrests of APF supporters were published in September and December 1993 (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 25 September 1993; 22 December 1993), as well as reports of the closure of independent newspapers in December (Agence France Presse, 4 December 1993). At the end of the year at least three former government officials remained in detention in connection with the events in Gyandzh in June 1993. Ikhtiyar Shirinov, former Procurator General, Gabil Mamedov, former Deputy Interior Minister and Sulkheddin Akperov, former Deputy Security Minister were charged with "exceeding their authority and using armed force against the Azerbaydzhani [sic] people" (Amnesty International, Report 1994, electronic format).

Events of 1994-1995

The conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave and reports of human rights violations continued to dominate the news coming from Azerbaijan during 1994. In February, more than 40 members of the Azerbaijan People's Front were arrested by police. The press centre of the APF said that those arrested had been tortured physically and psychologically (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 24 February 1994). In early March 1994 police blockaded the city of Keleki, home of ex-President Elchibey, although several days later the blockade was reportedly eased. Nevertheless, dozens of supporters of the APF were arrested again, under the pretext of plotting a coup against President Aliev (Agence France Presse, 5 March 1994; United Press International, 5 March 1994). A demonstration organized by the opposition was held in Baku on 21 May 1994 to protest against the possible deployment of Russian troops to Azerbaijan to help maintain a ceasefire in the conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. Dozens of protesters were reportedly arrested (Keesing's Record of World Events for 1994, 1994, 40020) and two deputies were expelled from the Milli Mijlis for their alleged role in organizing the rally (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 2 June 1994). In addition, on 21 May 1994 the general secretary of the Musavat party (which was allied to the APF) was among at least 40 people beaten and arrested during a police raid on the Musavat party's Baku headquarters (Keesing's Record of World Events for 1994, 1994, 40020). Four members of the Musavat Party - Yashar Tyurkazar, Rizvan Gumbatov, Rushdi Magomedli and Mamed Amrakhov - were sentenced to 15 days' administrative detention at the end of July for distributing leaflets in a tea-house in Baku (Amnesty International, 1994).

Attempts by the opposition to hold demonstrations in Baku in September 1994 were blocked by the authorities. Violent clashes between police and APF supporters ended in the arrest of 100 people, including an APF deputy chairman. The rally's organizers claimed that government policies, including those on Nagorno-Karabakh were a betrayal of Azerbaijan's interests (Keesing's Record of World Events for 1994, 1994, 40200). Tensions remained high as at the end of September two senior officials, the deputy of the Parliamentary chairman and President Aliev's security chief, were assassinated (Reuters, 30 September 1994). Three members of the Ministry of Interior elite police unit were arrested in connection with the murders, provoking a hostage-taking of the General-Prosecutor of Azerbaijan by said police unit, and later it appeared that troops backing premier Huseinov seized the airport and strategic buildings in the county's second-largest city of Gyandzh. In return, President Aliev declared a state of emergency in the country (Reuters, 3 October 1994). As troops loyal to Mr. Aliev took back control over the seized buildings, the parliament of Azerbaijan voted to confirm the dismissal of Prime Minister Huseinov for "complicity in an attempted state coup, for not submitting himself to the demands of the president and for serious violations committed in his work" (Reuters, 6 October 1994). As a result of these events the "president's position has been greatly strengthened" (Reuters, 6 October 1994). Several ministers were dismissed in a subsequent purge. The agriculture minister was arrested and the parliament also sanctioned the arrest of former Premier Huseinov on charges of treason (Reuters, 16 October 1994).

The interior ministry's elite police units staged another attempted coup d'etat in March 1995 when they took over key buildings in the cities of Kazakh and Astafa in Northern Azerbaijan (Reuters, 14 March 1995). Clashes were also reported in Baku. This latest challenge to the authority of President Aliev was also suppressed. An order to disband the elite police was issued by the Interior ministry and President Aliev pledged to punish participants but said there will be no wide-spread repression. Nevertheless, the next day, the main opposition newspaper was prevented from publishing (Reuters, 19 March 1995). Other reports also suggested that President Aliev "has launched a crackdown on dissent and many political opponents have been arrested since [the] attempted coup" (Reuters, 2 April 1995). Apparently, "Azeri officials have linked the People's Front . . . and several other organizations with the rebellion" (Ibid.). Former Azerbaijan Foreign Minister, T. Gasymov, was detained and questioned in connection with the attempted coup d'etat. The leader of the Independent Democratic Party, L.Yunusova, said the detention was "premeditated psychological pressure" demonstrating that the "authorities have begun a campaign of harassment against the political opposition" (BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 24 March 1995).

Annex III - Statistical Tables

Table 1: Submission of asylum applications and their adjudication, Europe, 1990-1994

Country

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

Total

'90

'91

'92

'93

'94

Total

 

Austria

Appl.

22,790

27,310

16,240

4,750

5,080

76,170

5%

5%

2%

1%

2%

3%

 

Recogn.

860

2,470

2,290

1,200

680

7,500

3%

7%

7%

2%

1%

4%

 

Reject.

11,780

17,220

21,200

14,200

8,340

72,740

5%

6%

6%

3%

2%

4%

 

Allowed

–

–

–

–

–

–

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

Belgium

Appl.

12,960

15,170

17,650

26,880

14,350

87,010

3%

3%

3%

5%

4%

3%

 

Recogn.

680

590

760

1,040

1,510

4,580

2%

2%

2%

2%

3%

2%

 

Reject.

1,150

1,680

2,010

2,520

3,270

10,630

0%

1%

1%

0%

1%

1%

 

Allowed

–

–

–

–

–

–

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

Denmark

Appl.

5,290

4,610

13,880

14,350

6,650

44,780

1%

1%

2%

3%

2%

2%

 

Recogn.

710

990

750

650

540

3,640

2%

3%

2%

1%

1%

2%

 

Reject

..

..

..

..

..

..

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

 

Allowed

1,400

1,980

2,020

2,090

1,360

8,850

9%

8%

5%

4%

2%

4%

Finland

Appl.

2,730

2,140

3,630

2,020

840

11,360

1%

0%

1%

0%

0%

0%

 

Recogn.

20

20

10

10

20

80

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

 

Reject.

330

630

1,340

1,440

490

4,230

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

 

Allowed

140

1,700

560

2,070

300

4,770

1%

7%

1%

3%

1%

2%

France

Appl.

53,070

46,540

26,910

27,570

26,040

180,130

12%

8%

4%

5%

8%

7%

 

Recogn.

13,540

15,980

10,810

9,910

6,210

56,450

47%

43%

32%

20%

13%

29%

 

Reject.

74,510

65,780

27,580

25,580

23,810

217,260

31%

22%

8%

5%

6%

12%

 

Allowed

–

–

–

–

–

–

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

Germany

Appl.

193,060

256,110

438,190

322,610

127,210

1,337,180

44%

46%

63%

58%

39%

52%

 

Recogn.

6,520

11,600

9,190

16,400

25,580

69,290

23%

32%

27%

34%

54%

35%

 

Reject.

116,270

128,820

163,640

347,990

238,390

995,110

49%

44%

49%

68%

64%

57%

 

Allowed

–

–

–

–

–

–

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

Greece

Appl.

6,170

2,670

1,850

810

1,300

12,800

1%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

 

Recogn.

170

120

60

40

90

480

1%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

 

Reject.

2,330

5,210

1,740

710

670

10,660

1%

2%

1%

0%

0%

1%

 

Allowed

–

–

–

–

–

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

Italy

Appl.

3,170

23,300

2,490

1,530

1,430

31,920

1%

4%

0%

0%

0%

1%

 

Recogn.

820

800

340

130

300

2,390

3%

2%

1%

0%

1%

1%

 

Reject.

560

15,660

6,620

1,300

1,390

25,530

0%

5%

2%

0%

0%

1%

 

Allowed

–

–

–

–

–

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

Netherlands

Appl.

21,210

21,620

17,460

35,400

52,570

148,260

5%

4%

3%

6%

16%

6%

 

Recogn.

690

780

4,820

10,340

6,650

23,280

2%

2%

14%

21%

14%

12%

 

Reject.

9,000

14,540

20,330

15,780

32,150

91,800

4%

5%

6%

3%

9%

5%

 

Allowed

860

1,920

6,890

4,660

12,690

27,020

5%

7%

17%

8%

22%

13%

Norway

Appl.

3,960

4,570

5,240

12,880

3,380

30,030

1%

1%

1%

2%

1%

1%

 

Recogn.

110

100

60

50

20

340

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

 

Reject.

2,060

2,270

2,880

4,690

2,960

14,860

1%

1%

1%

1%

1%

1%

 

Allowed

1,220

1,650

1,040

470

1,770

6,150

7%

6%

3%

1%

3%

3%

Portugal

Appl.

80

240

690

2,090

730

3,830

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

 

Recogn.

40

10

20

40

10

120

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

 

Reject.

50

50

0

600

1,700

2,400

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

 

Allowed

–

–

–

40

–

–

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

Spain

Appl.

11,730

11,060

11,710

12,250

12,000

58,750

3%

2%

2%

2%

4%

2%

 

Recogn.

380

240

450

1,290

630

2,990

1%

1%

1%

3%

1%

2%

 

Reject.

2,990

5,475

10,590

16,250

12,210

47,515

1%

2%

3%

3%

3%

3%

 

Allowed

..

..

..

..

..

0

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

Sweden

Appl.

29,420

27,350

84,020

37,580

18,640

197,010

7%

5%

12%

7%

6%

8%

 

Recogn.

2,170

1,400

620

1,050

790

6,030

8%

4%

2%

2%

2%

3%

 

Reject.

4,500

4,300

8,200

41,420

10,300

68,720

2%

1%

2%

8%

3%

4%

 

Allowed

9,220

15,530

8,770

34,720

36,560

104,800

56%

60%

21%

58%

63%

52%

Switzerland

Appl.

35,840

41,560

18,140

24,110

16,130

135,780

8%

7%

3%

4%

5%

5%

 

Recogn..

570

880

1,540

3,830

2,940

9,760

2%

2%

5%

8%

6%

5%

 

Reject.

11,150

28,480

30,140

18,700

18,740

107,210

5%

10%

9%

4%

5%

6%

 

Allowed

–

–

–

–

–

–

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

0%

UK (1)

Appl.

38,200

73,400

32,300

28,000

42,200

214,100

9%

13%

5%

5%

13%

8%

 

Recogn.

1,590

800

1,900

2,860

1,400

8,550

6%

2%

6%

6%

3%

4%

 

Reject.

860

5,390

35,480

18,550

20,920

81,200

0%

2%

11%

4%

6%

5%

 

Allowed

3,610

2,950

21,680

15,480

5,450

49,170

22%

11%

53%

26%

9%

24%

Total

Appl.

439,680

557,650

690,400

552,830

328,550

2,569,110

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

 

Recogn..

28,870

36,780

33,620

48,840

47,370

195,480

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

 

Reject.

237,540

295,505

331,750

509,730

375,340

1,749,865

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

 

Allowed

16,450

25,730

40,960

59,490

58,170

200,760

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

100%

Notes

– = Not applicable

.. = Not available

Table 2: 1951 UN Convention recognition rates (1)

Country

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

Total

Austria

7%

13%

10%

8%

8%

9%

Belgium

37%

26%

27%

29%

32%

30%

Denmark

..

..

..

..

..

..

Finland

6%

3%

1%

1%

4%

2%

France

15%

20%

28%

28%

21%

21%

Germany

5%

8%

5%

5%

10%

7%

Greece

7%

2%

3%

5%

12%

4%

Italy

59%

5%

5%

9%

18%

9%

Netherlands

7%

5%

19%

40%

17%

20%

Norway

5%

4%

2%

1%

1%

2%

Portugal

44%

17%

100%

6%

1%

5%

Spain

11%

4%

4%

7%

5%

6%

Sweden

33%

25%

7%

2%

7%

8%

Switzerland

5%

3%

5%

17%

14%

8%

United Kingdom

65%

13%

5%

13%

6%

10%

Total

11%

11%

9%

9%

11%

10%


Notes:

(1) Convention recognitions divided by Convention recognitions plus rejections

.. = Not Available

 

All sources are cited. This paper is not, and does not, purport to be, fully exhaustive with regard to conditions in the country surveyed, or conclusive as to the merits of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

 



[1] Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

[2] Note that in Tables 1 and 2 the UK statistics refer to persons, whereas in Tables 3 and 4 they refer to Principal Applicants.

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