The legal mechanism to enable citizens to propose a legislation and thus participate in decision making has long been overdue in Azerbaijan. While the constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan recognizes the right of legislative initiative of 40,000 citizens, the related law so far has not been adopted. In June 2019, the Azerbaijani Parliament (Milli Majlis) discussed the draft law “Rules on the realization of the rights on legislative initiative of the citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan” in the first reading.
The new draft law sets the following burdensome requirements:
- initiative groups must have at least 300 members;
- collection of signatures must cover at least 60 constituencies;
- each constituency must have at least 500 signatures.
In addition, the draft law excludes the legislative initiative on a number of subjects, including state budget, taxes and customs, amount and procedure for payment of wages, criminal or administrative offenses, family relations, territorial structure, and administrative-territorial division, ratification, and cancellation of intergovernmental treaties envisaging rules different from the law of the Republic of Azerbaijan. At the same time, on many of the above issues where the right of legislative initiative is prohibited, the parliament has the power to pass a law.
The requirements set out in the bill create considerable obstacles to the implementation of the right of legislative initiative and the participation of civil society in the decision-making process. Local CSOs call on the parliament to revise the bill and take the best international practices into account.