Next meeting of Working Group on Business and Human Rights was held

The 18th meeting of Working Group on Business and Human Rights under the Ombudsman was held on “Ensuring right to information within the context of business and human rights”. The Ombudsman, representatives of relevant state bodies, NGOs, members of independent Council of Experts under the Ombudsman and  WG took part at the meeting.

The Commissioner provided information about Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. She mentioned about proposals made by WG on rights and freedoms of vulnerable population groups, gender equality, rights of entrepreneurs, food security, safety in construction, environmental problems, consumer rights; many out of them were realized. Those proposals were sent to relevant bodies, also included to the Commissioner’s annual reports.

The Commissioner stated that the target 16.10 of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is devoted to  ensuring public access to information and protecting fundamental freedoms, in accordance with national legislation and international agreements. The WG also implements actions to promote, propagate and provide SDGs.

It was noted that the Commissioner supervises implementation of the Law on Access to Information, investigates complaints on infringement of its requirements by state bodies, municipalities and state officials.

The Commissioner highlighted increasing number of women entrepreneurs, also noted about e-government, e-trade, distant education etc. as a result of development of Information and Communication Technologies. She stated that in spite of deep reforms in this area, there are problems in disseminating personal data without consent of persons that causes disturbance or material damage to them; difficulties faced by citizens making direct or indirect phone calls to certain departments, except for call centers; non-consideration of complainant’s position; failure of companies and state bodies to respond information requests by a pretence that the data is commercial, state or service secret; lack of network among e-services systems of authorities etc.

Necessity of awareness raising for children about safe use of internet, also for state bodies, civil society and internet users on cyber security, amendments to the Law on Telecommunication, ASAN service centers’ mobile buses for providing services in regions, “myGov” portal, internal procedural rules on freedom of information, timely data provision were also noted at the meeting by the representatives of relevant bodies.

The roundtable also hosted discussions on protection of personal data, pre-trial control mechanisms on implementing legislation in this field, judicial and international practice etc.

Representatives from local NGOs, Union of Disabled People Organizations, Azerbaijan Women and Development Center, Independent Consumers Union also expressed their opinions and proposals.

Several recommendations on effectively ensuring freedom of information were sounded at the event.