Versions: Azerbaijani | English

You Are Here: Home » Reports » REPORT

Project director – Elchin Abdullayev, chariman of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Social Union (www.democraticinstitutions.org)

 

Consultant – Elchin Behbudov, chariman of Azerbaijan Committee Against Tortures (ACAT)  

 

Authors – Rafiq Tamrazov, sociologist, Elchin Abdullayev, NGO expert and chairman of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Social Union

 

Prisoner rights and punishment system in Azerbaijan:  Problems, civic participation and perspectives

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The fundamental changes in social-political and social-economical life of the recent decades have had an impact on attitude to prisoner rights as well. There have been done important work in promoting the rights of prisoners in democratic countries. Also, attitude to punishment-execution system and prisoner has changed a lot in a positive way. Nowadays, punishment-execution places serve more like in reformatory way to prisoners than just applying punishment to them for the crime they have done. The main responsibility of the punishment-execution system comprises of assisting in reintegration of prisoners in a healthy form both physically and psychologically and forming in these people the sense of respect to laws and rules of living together. In modern world of globalization, punishment-execution legislation and systems of different countries are being adapted gradually more to the norms of international law and the rules and decisions made by international organizations.

UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and Optional Protocol to it, as well as European Convention on Human Rights, European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, “UN Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners”, “UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials”, UN Principles for the Protection of Persons with Mental Illness and the Improvement of Mental Health Care, United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (“The Beijing Rules”), and Recommendation Rec(2006)2 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the European Prison Rules are playing the main role in control of punishment-execution system of democratic countries.

Azerbaijan also has declared itself as democratic  and legal state and reflected superiority of international law in its Constitution. It expresses interest in continuing cooperation with international organizations as well. Corresponding to what is said above, application of international standarts in improvement of punishment-execution system of the country continues. For this reason, to do a quick review over the work done by the government, Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Public Union has been implementing a project, “Monitoring in prison facilities of Azerbaijan” since middle of 2009 for the period of 18 months. The main purpose of this book, which is based on the summary of the project, which is about to finish is to evaluate the situation with regards to realization of the rights of prisoners, application of international standards in punishment-execution system, analizing the information on the projects and programs implemented by government agencies, function of the Public Committe in the sphere of prison service, which includes related competent individual and civil society institutions, including the representatives of non-governmental organizations, active at the Ministry of Justice, as well as identifying challenges former prisoners face in social-psycological reintegration to society.

Within the framework of the project, the reasons of current problems in prisoner rights area and the ways to eliminate them have been identified based on the facts gained on the real situation of punishment-execution system of the country and other information sources and  analysis of the legislation and corresponding recommendations have been made. c

This book includes the information about the work done in the area of international documents Azerbaijan Republic has joined as well as improvement of the country’s legislation and its conformity to international standards. It also includes judgment based on the analysis made on the level of collaboration of Azerbaijan government with international organizations in prison system area, including with International Red Cross Society, UN Committee Against Torture, as well as Council of Europe Committee Against Torture and a statement made about the improvements that need to be done in prisons, interrogation places and temporary detention centers.      

Changes done in legislation

 

The work done towards democratization of the legislation in punishment-execution system is connected with the committment the Republic of Azerbaijan has taken before international and regional organizations. Especially after becoming full-right member of the Council of Europe, a special attention has been given in the country to the commitment taken before this entity in the area of improvement of prison system and the legislation on punishment-execution system. Some of the international and regional conventions have become a part of the internal legislation and the norms of some of them have been integrated into the national legislation. International Pact on “Civil and political rights”,  UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment that Azerbaijan Republic has joined and later on September 15, 2005 it signed the Optional Protocol to this Convention. Besides this European Convention on Human Rights, European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment have also been ratified by Azerbaijan Parliament and have legally binding force for Azerbaijan Republic. UN Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners”, “UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, UN Principles for the Protection of Persons with Mental Illness and the Improvement of Mental Health Care, United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (“The Beijing Rules”), and Recommendation Rec(2006)2 of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the European Prison Rules and other international and regional documents play important role in improvement of punishment-execution legislation of prison system, although they are not legally binding for the countries that ratified them. There are quite enough rational norms and recommendations in those documents that would help in democratization of prison system in Azerbaijan.

 

Besides joining the international and regional legal documents related to punishment-execution system, Azerbaijan government also collaborates with a series of organizations specialized in this area. These organizations include UN Committe Against Tortures, Council of Europe Committe Against Tortures, International Red Cross Society and others. With the support and recommendations of these organizations, the government has achived notable improvements in modernization of prison system and protection of prisoner rights. And this comes from the committment the Government has taken before the above mentioned international organizations. Thus according to the committment Azerbaijan Government has taken before the international organizations mentioned above, the Government has to regularly inform those organizations about the changes in prison systems. The recommendations should be taken into consideration by the Government both in improvement of the legislaiton on punishment-execution system, as well as during practical reforms in prison system.

In the result of close cooperation with International Red Cross Society and within the framework of DOTS+ program of this organization, there have been gained significant achivements in treatment of prisons with tuberculosis in prisons. The treatment centers for tubercular prisoners in the prisons of Azerbaijan have been repaired and provided with medical equipment of international standards and new methods have started to be applied for treatment of the patients. And this made a significant dicrease in the number of prisoners dying from tuberculosis.But the work that needs to be done and problems that are necessary to be solved in this sphere are still a lot and we are going to express our position in solution of this problems in the following paragraphs.

 

The role of  international organizations, such as UN Committee Against Tortures and International Red Cross Society is tremendous in preventing ill-treatment and torture against prisons in Azerbaijan. According to the committment Azerbaijan government has taken before international organizations, the representatives of the Committe Against Tortures of the United Nations and Council of Europe have the authority to make unexpected visits to any detention centers and prisons at any time and hold confidential meeting with prisoners. During the meetings with the sentenced under arrest or prisoners, if a torture or ill-treatment fact by any law-enforcement body employees is identified, the representatives of the UN Committe Against Tortures and International Red Cross Society have the rights to demand from Azerbaijan government to protect the rights of the victim and punish the perpetrators.

According to the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as the representative of Azerbaijan Government, the Ministry of Justice periodically reports to the UN Committee Against Tortures if the provisions are followed by the Government or not. This report should also include information if recommendations and remarks made by the Committee Against Tortures are taken into consideration, or not. Azerbaijan Government has submitted 4 periodic reports to the Committee Against Tortures after joining the above mentioned Convention. All these reports included the reaction made by the Government to recommendations and remarks of the Committee Against Tortures, the reforms made in law-enforcement system, especially justice and court system. It should be noted that the report prepared based on the recommendations and remarks made by the CAT covers the period by 2009, which has been criticized by the Committee for being imperfect and that most of the recommendations have not been taken into consideration by the Government.

Below, we will express our opinion to recommendations and remarks of UN Committe Against Tortures, as well as to the latest report submitted by the Ministry of Justice.

For the past 10 years,  there has been done significant improvements in national legislation of the country, including penalty-executive legislation and corresponding legislation, as well as a numerous of new laws and other normative-legal documents have been adopted and significant work has been done in adaptation of these legal documents to international and regional Conventions and other legal documents.Among the laws that are directly about penalty-executive system, the Punishment Execution Code can be shown as an example that has come into force in September, 2000. Unlike the Code of Correctional Labor that was adopted during Soviet times and was in force until September, 2000, the Punishment Execution Code (here in after referred to as PEC) carries more democratic and humanist character. The CPE, that reflects in itself numerous of progressive norms is very rich with innovations such as improvement of prisoner rights protection mechanism, mitigation of prison regime, simplifying the process of early release mechanism and some other important innovations. The new CPE identifies a precise and simple mechanism of transformation from prison with more severe regime to prison with less severe regime. The inclusion of normative-legal basis for prisoners sentenced up to 5 year imprisonment and who have committed crime imprudently, to serve their punishment in less severe prisons shows that the legislation carries a humanist nature.

II

 

Numerous of democratic norms, that serve prisoner rights have been reflected in Criminal and Criminal Procedure Code and other related normative-legal acts that have been adopted  at the same time with the Punishment Execution Code within court-legal reforms. Thus alternative punishment to imprisonment have been reflected in Criminal Code, while the Punishment Execution Code includes the rules of implementation of these penalties.

The procedure for early release of prisoners has been significantly improved in the legislation related to penalty-execution system. According to the legislation, a series of factors are taken into consideration. These include a prisoner’s personality, how well he/she has been corrected and other factors. Also, the legislation includes substitution of prisoners’ unserved imprisonment with less severe punishment, which can be considered a progressive case.

The attitude to women and juvenile prisoners in legislation related to punishment-execution system also carries a humane character. Existence of large number of norms that allow humanistic approach when applying punishment to women, considered guilty of committing a crime attracts one’s attention. Thus prison regime for women prisoners is much more simple than the regime for men. According to the requirement of the Criminal Code, court can postpone the imprisonment of women committing crime, who are pregnant or owning a child up to eight years old until the child reaches eight years old. This excludes the women committing serious crimes (crimes that are subject to improsonment of up to 12 years), or  especially serious crimes (crimes that are subject to minimum 12 up to 15 years of imprisonment or crimes subject to life sentence) that have been imprisoned more than five years.

Although the country’s courts in the country sentence the pregnant women, or women with children up to eight years old to imprisonment according to the mentioned norm of the legislation, they postpone it to certain period of time until the child turns eight years old. After the child turns eight years old, in most cases the courts continue their humanist position by not sending women to prison. The legislation also doesn’t allow such women to be sentenced in prison regime not depending on how serious the committed crime is.

 

The norms defining the regulations for criminal liability and imprisonment of  juveniles are also of democratic nature and systematized. Different from the previous punishment-execution legislation, the current legislation describes the norms related to juveniles more compact and precize form. The law relates the individuals of the age between 14-18 to juvenile group and it reflects the norms of humane and fair treatment with them when punishment  is defined by the court and its execution and application by related authorities.

The legislation does not consider right the decisions on imprisonment of juveniles committing crimes that do not bear big social threat (the crimes that could be subjected maximum 2 years of imprisonment). Also  the law limits to apply arrest as a measure of last resort for juveniles except for serious, violently serious and especially serious crimes. When it comes to punishment applied to juveniles, the legislation prohibits application of imprisonment of more than 10 years for this group of people. The legislation also requires that girls and boys, who are imprisoned for the first time should be kept in corrective places with general regime, but the boys imprisoned before should be kept in corrective places with strong regime.

According to the Constitution of the country, other legal norms reflected also in  the United Nations Convention on Children Rights, United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (“The Beijing Rules”) and other international documents Azerbaijan Republic has joined should be taken into consideration along with local legislation when defining criminal liability and types of punishment, as well as applying punishment-execution mechanisms for the juvenile. The above mentioned international legal acts, especially the Beijing Rules recommends the corresponding entities of the member states  to be very attentive and humanist when administering juvenile justice. They include the norms on necessary protection of the children violating the requirements of the legislation.

Besides the laws adopted by Milli Majlis, which is the legislative body of the government,  there have been adopted numerous of normative legal acts by different entities of the Cabinet of Ministers, controlling punishment-execution system. The role of the Ministry of Justice in adoption, approval and improvement of legislative acts on prison system. Thus, as the responsibility for the organization and administration of prison system falls under the Ministry of Justice, just for the period of 2000-2010 years, around 20 instructions, rules and other documents have been adopted by this Ministry that define the rules of application the legal norms reflected in the laws and other normative-legal actss of high importance. The followings can be taken as an examples for such instructions and rules: “Internal discipline rules of prisons,” “Internal rules of prisons with special regime) ” instructions “on the rules on control over the prisoners kept in prisons with special regime,” “Security measures and their implementation in prison system of Azerbaijan Republic, ” “rules for realization of general secondary education for the prisoners imprisonmened for certain  period of time,” “About the work of special parts of  pre-trial detention places and prisons”, “about the work of mesures for reorganization medical service in prison system,” “the rules of execution of punishments of corrective types,” “rules of increasing civic control over the work of prison system,” “instructions on registeration, preserving and delivery as required of the property taken before the court decision,” “the rules for prisoner trips outside the prison for a short period of time,” “the rules of control over those conditionally sentenced,” “approval of food and financial-domestic norms of prisoners,” “the rules of creating amateur talent activities of prisoners and their functioning,” “the rules of certification of prisoners, who get psycologically ill and other serious ilnesses and their presentation for release,” “instructions on conditions of prisoners in prisons and interrogatory detention places refusing from food and their compusary feeding,” and others.

It should be noted that although some of the the above mentioned normative-legal acts have been adopted by the Ministry of Justice, some of them have been also agreed upon and approved by Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Head Prosecutor’s Offie and Supreme Court.

The work of the Ministry of Justice does not end just with the adopted and approval of the legal acts mentioned above, it also plays an important role in their improvement, changing and implementation in practice. For example, the “Internal Discipline Rules of prisons” that was adopted at the Collegium meeting of the  Ministry of Justice in 2004 has been significanlty updated current year. The Ministry of Justice has noted that updating the rules is the requirement of the time and that it is a part of democratization of the legislation and reforms in justice system and that it took into consideration the recommendations of European Prison Rules, European Committee Against Tortures, IRCS and the Public Committee that realizes public control over the work of the prisons. These changes include changes done in prisoner rights, including provision of their security in more confident way, adaptation of the conditions they are kept to international norms, modernization of corrective work, increasing meeting opportunites and encouragement activities, speding prisoners’ free time in more productive way and other important issues.

In general, the national legislative acts related to punishment-execution system of Azerbaijan is rich with norms based on universal principles and serve prisoner rights. If we consider the international and regional legal acts as a part of legislation system, the existing normative-legal acts related to punishment-execution system that are now in force:

-                      review the prisoner rights as a social value of high importance. The rights and freedoms of prisoners in the legislation related to punishment-execution system are put forward and their personality, dignity, health and security are totally under protection;

-                      when reviewing the content of the legislation related to punishment-execution system, it’s possible to understand that universal principles, such as humanism, fairness, kindnes equity before the law and rule of law all are reflected in it. Inclusion of such universal principles into the content of the legislation related to punishment-execution system ensures the protection of the rights of prisoners based on the norms of international law;

-                      In the legislation related to the punishment-execution system, the application of different types of punishment has been described thoroughly and the rules for supporting those released have been identified. The fact that the legislation also includes the rules of involvement of civil society institutions into the correction  process of prisoners is characterized as a positive case and shows existence of elements of transparency in the work of prison service. And giving the prisoners the opportunity to organize amateur talent activities carries in itself a democratic essence.

-                      The international contracts related to punishment-execution system that Azerbaijan Republic has joined carries superiority in related to the local analogical legislation norms. This means if the provisions of the normative-legal acts related to punishment-execution system contradicts the international and regional legal acts Azerbaijan Republic has joined, in this case the requirements of international documents should be applied.

The prison facilities realizing the punishment of imprisonment, their administration and currect situation

 

According to the legislation of Azerbaijan Republic, when saying the punishment of deprivation from freedom, it means the isolation of the convicted from society by placing them in different types of prisons, such as of settlement type, or general, serious or prison with special regime. The legislation also states that the convicted individuals sentenced to imprisonment, who are under 18 years at the time the decision was made on sentence are placed in general or strict regime educative centers.

There functions different types of centers executing punishment in the country. Majority of them are accountable to the Prison Service of the Ministry of Justice. They include:

1)              Three pre-trial detention center in Baku and Ganja, where individuals under interrogation are placed;

2)              General, strict and special regime prison facilities where the convicted sentenced to certain period of imprisonment by the decision of the Court serve their punishment;

3)              A settlement type prison facility where the convicted sentenced to certain period of imprisonment serve punishment;

4)              Prisons, where the convicted sentenced to life imprisonment, as well as those sentenced to certain period of imprisonment, who have to serve their punishment completely or some part in prison by the decision of the court are kept;

5)              Educational facilities for juveniles – girls and boys;

6)              Medical facility of prison system and punishment facility where tuberculosis infected prisoners are kept.

The punishment-execution system was transferred from the Ministry of Internal Affairs

Azerbaijan was the first post-Soviet state to transfer its prison system from the Ministry of Internal Affairs to the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice. This reorganization, brought into effect by President Abulfaz Elchibey on January 9, 1993, was announced as a measure to humanize the prison system. Indeed, the preamble to President Elchibey’s decree declared that these fundamental changes in the prison system were aimed at improving the system of judicial decisions and making the entire corrections process better and more humane for inmates. But this process that started in 1993 has not been completed yet.Thus there exist pre-trial detention facility in the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which is directly located in the main building of this Ministry. Also, the execution of punishment to military servants is still realized by related responsible individuals and entities of the Ministry of Defense. Except the pre-trial detention facility and prison functioning in the territory of Nakhchivan Autonmous Republic, there exist 3 pre-trial detention facilty, 16 prison facility for those sentenced for imprisonment for certain period of time are kept, Gobustan close prison for those sentenced for life imprisonment,  specialized medical facility for tuberculosis infected inmates, medical facility of mixed type and 2 educational facilitiy for juveniles function under the prison system of the Ministry of Justice of Azerbaijan Republic. Two of pre-trial detention facilities: Pre-trial detention center in Baku and pre-trial detention center #3 in Shuvalan are located in the surrounding of Baku, pre-trial detention center #3 is located in Ganja, the second biggest city of the country.

Majority of prison facilities are located in Baku or surrounding areas. It should be noted that except Baku pre-trial center, which started to function in the middle of 2009, the buildings of remaining two pre-trial detention centers and prison facilities are very old. Most of these buildings have bee built in Soviet times, some even in Russian Czar regime. Inmates in these prisons suffer a lot due to lack of adequate conditions and get ill very often. Although the number of prisoners dying from tuberculosis has incresed significantly comparing to 90s of the last century, tuberculosis still remains to be a threat in prison facilities.

Nine of prison facilities are of general regime. Individuals committing crimes that does not represent big public danger, or sentenced to imprisonment for less serious and serious crimes for the first time in their lives, as well as those sentenced to imprisonment for more than five years of period for the crimes committed imprudently and also those, whose punishment has been replaced with sentence of imprisonment for certain period of time serve their imprisonment in general regime prisons. In general regime prison facilities, the inmates can move inside the prison area according to the internal rules of prison facilities. The inmates sentenced for the crimes committed imprudently, those that do not represent big public danger and less serious crimes are kept in ordinary dwelling houses.

There are total 4 strict regime prison facilities and 2 mixed regime prison facilities. The individuals, sentenced for imprisonment for certain period of time for the first time in their lives for special serious crimes, as well as those sentenced imprisonment for certain period of time before and women sentenced imprisonment for the crimes representing special threat serve their imprisonment in strict regime prisons. There have been created conditions both for strict and special regime prisons in mixed type of prison facilities. There are kept around 360 inmates in the women prison of mixed type. In strict regime prison facilities, the inmates can move inside of the prison area according to the internal rules of the prison facility. Inmates are kept in ordinary apartment buildings in strict regime prison facilities.

There functions one special regime prison facility where men sentenced imprisonment for the repeated crime representing special threat and those sentenced life imprisonment, whose sentence have been replaced with imprisonment of certain period of time. In special regime prisons the inmates are kept in cells, or ordinary dwelling houses.

There function settlement type prison facilities in the country for those sentenced for not more than five years of imprisonment for the crimes committed on imprudence. Besides this, according to the requirement of the legislation, the inmates transferred from general and strict regime prison facilities serve their imprisonment in settlement type prison facilities defined for them. The inmates in settlement type of prison facilities are kept in the same conditions. Both men and women inmates can be kept in the same settlement type prison facilities. The inmates are kept in settlements without gards, but under control and can move in the prison area freely from when they wake up until they go to bed, can carry a document proving their identity, as well as can move freely with the permission of the management of the prison facility without control because of the nature of the work they do in prison or when they have a training outside of the prison area, but within the boundries of Azerbaijan Republic. Besides this, if the inmates have apartment conditions, they can live with their families close to prison area, get a dwelling house and create their own family economy. Registeration of such inmates at the settlement type of prison from 1-4 times a month is defined by the management of that facility.

There is a prison facility named Gobustan prison located in the area close to Baku, where the inmates sentenced to life imprisonment, as well as those sentenced more than five years of imprisonment for specially serious crimes and individuals sentenced for special dangerous relapse of crimes by being sentenced to imprisonment and serving it completely or a part of it. Also, the inmates transferred from general, strict and special strict regime prison facilities to prisons for the period of not more than 3 years are also kept in this prison facility. The inmates are kept in cells here. In necessary cases the inmates can be kept in single cells based on grounded decision of the prison management.

Although the government has done some work in Gobustan prison in the result of criticism of international and local human rights organizations, the social-domestic situation in this prison remains to be the same. It can be said that this comes from the prison building being very old that does  not let to create the necessary conditions. The poor social-domestic situation in the prison, lack of opportunities for the inmates to spend free time, as well as lack of conditions for the inmates to be engaged in any social-useful labor in their turn affect negatively to psycology of inmates kept here. As a consequence of  this, there happen suicides among inmates often or instigating to suicide. Information on protest of prisoners against inadequate conditions here are highlighted in Media outlets. Based on this information,  the protests by prisoners have been realized both as individuals, and in groups. Majority of protests are against conditions in the prison, ill behavior by prison controllers and degrading their dignit. Thus the inmates that spend 23 hour of their day inside of the cells want the regime they are kept to be soften. The inmates sentenced to life imprisonment also protest asking substitution of their punishment with imprisonment for certain period of time. The inmates think that the punishments they have been defined are extremely severe and the Criminal legislation adopted that is in force since 2000 gives an opportunity to substitute their life imprisonment with imprisonment for certain period. So the courts should review their cases again. Head Prosecutor’s office of Azerbaijan and courts turn a deaf ear to this demand of the inmates. The decision of the Council of Europe on prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment also recommends Azerbaijan government to review such prisoners’ cases to substitiute their punishment of life imprisonment to more lighter punishment. But the government does not hurry to consider the Council of Europe’s recommendations yet. When it comes to protests, they are mostly done as hunger protests. The information about death cases in prisons are spread both in Media outlets, as well as mentioned in press releases of right-protection entities. The reasons for deaths are: illness, torture and others. In July of the current year, due to ruthless beating by prison controllers, one of the inmates in Gobustan prison has passed away in Medical Service Facility of Prison system of serious injuries in his body. The international organizations and local right-protection organizations have demanded the government many times to close Gobustan prison down. But although the government has stated that they intend to transfer the prison and that they have even identified a location for it in Umbaki settlement close to Baku and that after the construction ends all the prisoners will be transferred to this new prison location, this process has been delayed for no reason for several years already.

It should be noted that currently there are more than 200 inmates in Gobustan prison sentenced to life imprisonment. Around 80 among them had been sentenced to death penalty before. After the death penalty was eliminated from the legislation after Azerbaijan became a member of the Council of Europe, the punishment of those, who sentenced to death penalty was substituted with life imprisonment by the decision of Milli Majlis in 1998.   

There function 3 Medical facility in the country specialized in serving inmates with tuberculosis. It should be noted that tuberculosis remains to be one of the main problems in prison facilities. And this originates from lack of adequate living conditions in prison facilities. In 90s of the last century the prisoners infected with tuberculosis consisted 15-18% of the total prisoners in the country. Majority of these prisoners have passed away due to lack of adequate medical treatment. The World Health Organization has expressed in its report related to Azerbaijan  that tuberculosis has spread very much here and that the prison facilities are the places where this disease orginiates from. The report also stated that ¼ of prisoners infected with tuberculosis suffer from the shortage of continous provison  of necessary medications. The same report also indicates that the reason for the spread of tuberculosis in prison facilities is negative facts such as the lack of feeding the prisoners with necessary calorie food, concrete cover of most of the floors  of dwelling houeses where prisoners are kept, lack of adequate heating, density of prison population, keeping ill inmates in the same sells or dwelling houses together with the healthy ones, lack of sufficient provision of ill inmates with necessary medications and lack of professional doctors and others.

The responsible representatives of the prison system used to hide the number of tuberculosis infected prisoners and the number of those died from tuberculosis both from local, as well as from international community and deviated from a broad partnership in this field. And they tried to decieve the society by giving false information on tuberculosis infected prisoners. But later the officials, who realized the spread of tuberculosis in prison facilities as an epdemy and had hard time in preventing this started to cooperate with World Health Organization, International Red Cross Committee and other organizations in treatment of tuberculosis infected prisoners and signed a partnership contractes with them in this field. According to that contract, the tuberculosis infected prisoners in prison facilities in Azerbaijan should be treated in the framework of DOTS+ program, which has been experiemented on international level. Within the framework of this program, the international organizations, especially International Red Cross Committe has taken up the responsiblity of providing the Medical facility for tuberculosis infected prisoners with necessary medical equipment and medications and providing necessary aid to ill prisoners. According to the statement provided by the program ofAzerbaijan office of IRCC on struggle against tuberculosis in prison facilities to Media, since 1995, more than 10,500 tuberculosis infected prisoners have been drawn into treatment process. It was also stated in this statement that IRCC has started a new program on struggle against tuberculosis since 2007 in prison facilities in the result of which more than 300 tuberculosis infected prisoners have been drawn into treatment process and among them 70 have been cured completely. According to what IRCC official informed, if before – in 1994-1995 450 prisoners have died from tuberculosis, in the result of new implemented program only 20-24 prisoners die from this illness. But in spite of this, the number of tuberculosis infected prisoners still remain high. And this is as mentioned above is because of inhuman living conditions in the prison facilities. According to official statistics, more than 50 prisoners died from tuberculosis in 2002, wheras this number was 66 in 2005, 29 in 2008 and less in 2009.

It should be noted that since active collaboration with the international organizations, there has been done repair work in Medical facility #3 specialized for tuberculosis infected prisoners functioning as prison facility #3, there has been done significan improvements in providing the facility with modern medical equipment and medical staff. Like in other prison facilities, this facility also consists of cells fit for 2-3 people and a yard for walking. There functions a surgical department here as well. Currently around 90 prisoners are getting treatment within DOTS+ program in the medical facility specialized for tuberculosis prisoners. Last year, in this medical facility a special department was built and presented for the use of tuberculosis infected prisoners sentenced for life imprisonment. But if we take into consideration that the percentage of tuberculosis infected prisoners is still high, the need for building a new medical facility that would be able to serve 1,500 patients still remains to be a pressing issue.

Besides the medical facility specialized for tuberculosis infected prisoners, there functions also a medical facility of the prison system in the country. This facility which is located in an area close to Baku is of mixed type. The ill prisoners, except those infected with tuberculosis get treatment in this medical facility. It is easy to identify from the oldness of the building this facility is located that there is no suitable conditions for the patients to get a thorough and adequate treatment. There is no condition here to place modern type medical equipments. And there is even adequate medical staff. Based on research done and information released in Media, that the prisoners have to bribe the head or other individuals in the prison management to get into this medical facility and get treatment. The facility consists of different departments, including administrative, therapy, surgical and others. The patients are placed in departments according to their ilness. Although according to the legislation, each prisoner patient should be provided with free medication and food, the family and close ones to the patient bring medications and food for the patient. As the food given in the facility to the patients are not of necessary calorie and norm, they prepare food for themselves from the products their relatives bring to them. Although the legislation gives the right to the patients to be provided with sigarettes, water and others, it is not possible for the patients to get these things, or they have to bribe to get them. The prisoners, who are rich are placed in administrative department. The patients placed in this department have the right to go for a walk in the yard of the facility and move freely inside of the facility. The regime for them has been softened significantly. Other prisoners behave according to the regime of the prison facility where they serve their punishment.

Bribing doctors who treat patient prisoners by the relatives of the prisoner is an ordinary case. The prisoners have to bribe the prison controller or any other corresponding employee when they want to send a letter or note to their relatives. Short meetings with relatives also is realized for certain amount of bribery.

Treatment by the staff of the medical facility towards the prisoners is also not normal. The controllers treat prisoners rudely here, although these prisoners are ill. They don’t hurry for help when there is a necessity. Sometimes they even don’t evade swearing the patients badly and degrading them. There is also information about beating of prisoners very rudely. Just during last year and in the first half of the current year several prisoners have ended up their lives by committing suicide.

According to the information provided by the relatives of such prisoners, there were numerous of injuries from ill-treatment in the bodies of dead prisoners. This gives us a ground to say that even the ill prisoners are not treated in the way the law requires and are tortured and degraded. Although the information about the above mentioned negative cases in medical facilities was reflected in Media regularly, the officials of prison system diligently deny it.

We think that as a part of reforms realized in prison service, the above mentioned Medical facility should be completely re-established, and in general, there should be built several medical facilities in different regions of the Republic for ill prisoners that would comply modern standards. To prevent bribery, transparency procedure should be strengthened, Media and civil society institutions should be given access to the facility.

According to the legislation of Azerbaijan Republic, the educational facilities, where juveniles sentenced to imprisonment serve their punishment is a part of prison system. According to legislation, the juveniles serve their punishment in general and strong regime educational facilities. The juvenile inmates have the right to move inside the educational facility according to internal discipline rules. Both in general regime educational facilities, as well as in strong regime educational facilities the inmates are kept in ordinary dwelling houses. In these educational facilities the juveniles are kept until 18 years old and in some cases until 21 years old. According to the requirement of the legislation, with the purpose to involve society members to the correction and education process of juveniles, there is established a patronage council consisting of different entities, including government  entities, offices and organizations, public unions and other organizations and individuals. Also, in order to increase the effectiveness of education process and to help the management of the educaitonal facility in their work, there can be established a parents committe consisting of the parents of the juvenile prisoners or their relatives.

The educational facility functioning in the country for juvenile boys is located in an area close to Baku. It should be noted that due to absence of special educaitonal facility for juvenile girls, they serve their punishment in the prison facility # 4 for women, although the legislation requires that there should be a separation educational facility for them. The officials of the prison service explain it with the very few number of juvenile girls sentenced to imprisonment. It should be mentioned that it is true that the number of juvenile girls sentenced to imprisonment is very few. Thus according to official statistics, among 222 juveniles convicted last  year, only 51 were sentenced to imprisonment and among them only 23% consists of juvenile girls, which forms only 1.5% of total number of imprisoned. If we pay attention to the demographic structure of juveniles sentenced to imprisonment, we can see that the majority of them are boys. The fact that there are only several juvenile girls among them and that their number is very small does not justify keeping them in the same cells together with adult women prisoners in prison facilities. There should be built and utilized a separate department for them.

Besides this, the juveniles convicted for serious (the crimes subjected to imprisonment of up to 12 years ), or specially serious crimes (crimes that are subjected  to 12-15 years of imprisonment or the crimes subjected to life imprisonment), but whose age does not allow to attract them to criminal liability are kept in close type educational facilities. According to the Criminal legislation of Azerbaijan Republic, the individuals who have turned 16 years old can be attracted to criminal liability. The individuals, who have turned 14 years old can be attracted to criminal liability only in cases if they execute murder deliberately, realize violent actions of sexual character, theft, robbery, plunder, demanding by threatening, obtain a car or any transport means illegally without having a purpose to rob, destroy and impair a property in aggravating form, realize a terror act, taking people as hostage, huliganism in aggravating form, to rob fire-arm, military supplies, explosives and installations or demanding them by threatening, robbing drug means and psycotrop means or demand them by threatening, and to make transportation means and roads unfit for use.

According to the content of the legislation, as a rule, only the individuals, who have not turned 16 committing serious or specially serious crimes been proved by the court can be kept in close type educational facilities.

The close type educational facilities for juveniles function in the form of open type boarding school in Mardakan settlement close to the capital city and special type technical-professional boarding school located in Guba region, which is 120 km away from the capital city. These facilities have been established for boys. Besides juveniles committing serious, or special serious crimes, the boys who have been registered taken under control by the police for legal violations, as well as those who deviate from going to school, and don’t get along with their parents are also kept in these facilities. Except the juveniles committing serious, or specially serious crimes, the maximum age limit of others kept in close type special educational facility can be 18 years old.

Besides the prison facilities under the Prison system of the Ministry of Justice in Azerbaijan, there exist militry units of discipline character under the authority of the Ministry of Defence, where military servants convicted in commiting crimes and sentenced to serving punishment in military facility unit of discipline character. The militry units of discipline character are established and abolished by the order of the Minister of Defence. The rules for sending out prisoners and their admittance to the military units of discipline character are defined by the Ministry of Defence. Except applying general educational and vocational training for the inmates of such military units as the means of correction work, there are also applied other corrective work according to the articles of the Criminal Code and additionally they are also trained in military. The legal regime for the inmates kept in the military units of discipline character is regulated by the Code of Azerbaijan Republic on Punishment Execution Statue “on the military units of discipline character,”  Discipline Charter of Armed Forces of Azerbaijan Republic and other corresponding military legislation acts. The military units of discipline character for military inmates function in several regions of the country. These military units are of close types and therefore are not allowed by the Ministry of Defence to do any monitoring in them.

According to the information provided by the officials, the total around 16 thousand prisoners are serving their punishment for different types of crimes in the prison facilities of Azerbaijan. The prison facilities that do not comply with the requirements of the modern world affects negativly to the correction process of the prisoners as well. Almost all of the prison facilities are locatd in the capital city of the country – Baku or in the surrounding of Baku, which is against the requirements of the legislation. Thus, according to the requirements of punishment-execution system legislation, the prisoners serve their punishment close to the area they live. It’s also useful for the relatives of the inmates that they serve their punishment in the area close to where they live. Because it would be financially disadvantageous as well as time consuming for the relatives of prisoners from different regions of the country to come to Baku often and visit their relative at prison. The officials of the Ministry of Justice inform that they take into consideration the above mentioned factors and therefore share the opinion on importance of transferring the prison facilities from Baku and that several prison facilities are being built in different regions of the Republic. The officials of the Prison System say that by 2013 there will be built and presented to utilization several new prison facilities that will inlcude a prison facility fit for 1050 people in Lankaran, one of southern regions of the country, one prison fit for 950 people in a south-western region of the country Shaki, as well as prison facilities in Ganja, the west of the country and in Kurdamir, a central region of the country. Also, they inform that including these mentioned regions, there will be presented for use pre-trial detention places in total eight regions of the country. It should be noted that the Ministry of Justice has built and presented to utilization mixed type of prison facility and pre-trial detention place in Nakchivan fit for 650 people corresponding new European standards.

The officials of the Ministry of Justice inform that in the first hand, it is planned to build and presented for use prison facilities for women and juvenile corresponding modern standards. The construction of a new prison facility for women and a pre-trial detention center has already started near the modern type pre-trial detention center built and presented for use in May of last year in Kurdakhani area in the surrounding of Baku.

When it come to pre-trial detention places, there function 3 pre-trial detention center under supervision of the Ministry of Justice, 1 pre-trial detention center under the supervision of the General Interrogation Office of the Ministry of National Security. The individuals who are under interrogation for different crimes, but no final decision has been given by court are kept in pre-trial detention places. Two of the pre-trial detention centers under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice are located in the area close to Baku city, and one of them is in the Western region of the country – Ganja. One of the pre-trial detention centers located in Baku has been presented for use in May of last year. The experts consider that this pre-trial detention center corresponds the international standards. The pre-trial detention center located near Baku known as “Shuvalan” pre-trial detention center #3 is still functioning. Besides some men convicted in different crimes and arrest has been applied as a measure of last resort, who are under interrogation, juveniles convicted in committing crimes as well as women are kept in this pre-trial detention center. In “Shuvalan” pre-trial detention center women, juveniles and men are kept separately. It should be mentioned that the building of this pre-trial detention center is very old, built about a century ago. The floors of the cells are of concrete. Heating and circulation is in very bad conditions. The ceiling is low and covered with slate, the cells become vey hot during summer. Lightening system is very poor. The windows are very small and thus the cells don’t see enough sun light. Thus it gives basis to say that the cells of the detention center is not suitable for living and can be even considered it is dangerous and a source of ilnesses. The officials of the Ministry of Justice declare that both “Shuvalan”, as well as “Ganja” detention centers will be closed soon. They are saying that the convicted kept in “Shuvalan” detention center will be transferred to the new detention center that will be built in the area of Baku pre-trial detention center. It is planned to build a new pre-trial detention center in the area of “Ganja” pre-trial detention center.

When it comes to the pre-trial detention center under the supervision of Ministry of National Security, it should be noted that according to the legislation, the convicted under primary interrogation process held by Interrogation Office of the MNS are kept in this pre-trial detention center. Also, there are no departments neither for juveniles, nor for women in above mentioned pre-trial detention center. The juveniles convicted in committing crimes are kept in the same cells with adults. The detention center is close for Media and civil society institutions. The Human Rights Committee of United Nations has mentioned in its report on Azerbaijan that the pre-trial detention center under the supervision of MNS should be either shut down, or given to the supervision of the Ministry of Justice. But the government still does not seem to fulfil the recommendations of UN so far. The government officials inform that it is necessary for the MNS to have a separate pre-trial detention center as it realizes interrogation for the dangerous crimes such as terrorism, contrabandism, state  treacher, espionage, illegal armed union, illegal counterfeit, etc. For this reason, they think that it is important for MNS to have a separate pre-trial detention center under direct supervision of General Interrogation Office of MNS.

As it is mentioned above, the control over the execution of punishments in prison system is realized by the Ministry of Justice, but the control over hauptwache and those serving punishment in military units of discipline character is realized by the Ministry of Defence and those kept in pre-trial detention places under supervision of the Ministry of National Security is realized by this Ministry.It should be noted that those kept in the pre-trial detention center of the Ministry of National Security are later transferred to corresponding prison facility under the Ministry of Justice according to the court decision or to the military units of discipline character under the Ministry of Defence. Besides this, there exist also temporary detention centers, whis is considered the initial place for those convicted in committing crime. But according to the requirement of the legislation, the individuals detained can not be kept in temporary detention centers for not more than 48 hours and after this term is over, the ones that are kept here should either be released or transferred to corresponding pre-trial detention center under the Ministry. That’s why temporary detention centers have not been identified as prison facilities in this book and therefore have not been researched thoroughly. All the entities administering punishment-execution system comprise the basis for the law-enforcement bodies of the country. Besides supervising punishment-execution system, these entities also actively participate in adoption process of normative-legal acts that complete the content of the legislation related to this field.

The legislation also considers court supervision over punishment-execution system as well. Besides defining punishment, the courts also play a great role in the process of execution of the punishements. Contacting the courts, sending the prisoner to the place of punishment-execution, his/her admision, transfer, early release and other activities done by the entities and offices executing the punishment is also settled by the legislation. If the court identifies the cases when the offices that execute the punishment make mistake in their work and violate the rights of prisoners, etc. the courts have the right to demand the elimination of the violations or mistakes in different forms, including by giving special decision. The prisoners also have the right to complain the court in written form on activites of the officials executing the punishment and other issues directly related with their rights as identified by law. The judges should investigate the complain letters written by prisoners thoroughly and give unbiased decision.

Provision of the rights of prisoners as identified in national and international legal acts is the guarantee of the transparency of the work of prison facilities. Transparency element includes realization of productinve and effective control of society or any other third party other than state bodies over the work of prison facilities. According to the requirement of the national legislation, besides the control over prison facilities by legislative, executive and court bodies, the control by Ombudsman (Commissioner for human rights) and civil society institutions is also considered. The right of Obmudsman to overse the work of prison facilities and execution of punishments is regulated both by legislative acts, as well as by “Constitutional Law on the commissioner of Azerbaijan Republic on human rights (ombudsman)”. According to the requirement of the legislatio, the commissioner on human rights realizes its oversight on execution of punishments in following forms:

a)     to visit prison facilities, including pre-trial detention places, temporary detention centers without warning, to get introduced with the conditions in them and important documents, have confidential meetings and talks with prisoners;

b)    to receive applications, recommendations or complaints by the prisoners or their relatives in written form, as well as making note of their oral complaints;

c)     to contact corresponding government and other entities with regards to the conditions of prison facilities, or investigation on prisoners’ complaints;

d)    to present recommendations to corresponding punishment execution entites;

e)     organization of training for staff and controllers of prison facilities;

f)      to include the results of annual research on the conditions of punishment-execution system and prisoner rights into the annual report presented to the President of Azerbaijan Republic, as well as to speak up before Milli Majlis (parliament) presenting the results of research done by the Ombudsman office, or the Ombudsman directly herself on visits to prison facilities, pre-trial detention centers, temporary detention centers, also generalized summary of official answer and attitudes of government bodies and officials. Besides this, to send the information obtained on punishment-execution system to the Cabinet of Ministers of Azerbaijan Republic, Supreme Court of Azerbaijan Republic and Head Prosecutor’s Office of Azerbaijan Republic;

g)    to organize public awareness seminar and conferences on prisoner rights, publish booklets and bulletins and distribute them among prisoners, also, to present recommendations for more effective provision of prisoner rights and their more reliable protection, to implement other measures in preventing shortcomings and problems in this area, including partnershipp with international organizations and other measures.

The Ombudsman should realize the above mentioned activity concerning punishment-execution system as an independent entity and protect the rights of prisoners efficently. But if we take a look at the annual reports prepared by the Ombusman office, we clearly can see that there are no substantial differences between them and the reports and other doecuments prepared by government agencies and that it reflects more the statements made by officials. The Ombudsman office abstains from giving open and objective report. Thus, although information on the facts of deaths of at least several prisoners in the result of torture and ill-treatment in prison facilities (pre-trial detention places, temporary detention places) during 2009 are approved or firmly criticized by civil society institution and international organizations, the Ombudsman stated in her report that these prisoners had died from different ilnesses. Such position overlaps with the position of the officials administering the prison facilities and is far from objective truth. Besides this, Omdusman deviates from expressing attitude to protests of prisoners in different prison facilities in different times, meeting with protesters and conveying their problems and prefer to keep silent. The problems indicated in the letters prepared by the Ombudsman based on complaints of prisoners or directly written by the prisoners themselves are either abandoned by corresponding government entities or given uncertain answers or are not answered at all.

Ratification of the Optional Protocol of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by the government on September 15, 2005  has been approved by the law on Approval of the Optional Protocol of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. According to the mentioned law, the Omdusman office has been recognized as an establishment realizing national preventive mechanism on human rights. Corresponding the Convention mentioned above the purpose in establishing the “national preventive mechanism” is to prevent tortures, degrading treatment punishment or ill-treatment in prison facilities (pre-trial detention places, temporary detention places, etc.). The Ombudsman should realize its function as “national preventive mechanism” through monitoring the prison facilities. According to the legislation, the commissioner for human rights (Ombudsman) as “a national preventive mechanism” is entitled with the following:

-        regular examination of treatment with inmates in prison facilities;

-        recommendations to corresponding government officials on improvement of prison facilities, as well as the situation of the inmates serving punishment;

-        to present recommendations and comments to corresponding government entities on the legislation on punishment-execution system and prisoner rights, etc.

According to the Optional Protocol of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, at least the following provisions should be taken into consideration for the establishment that would realize the function of “national preventive mechanism”:

1)     functional independence;

2)     required experience and professionalism;

3)     corresponding resources, etc.

As it is mentioned above human rights commissioner of Azerbaijan is not independent enough. That’s why there are substantial doubts that this this this entity realizes its function as “national preventive mechanism” as mentioned in the Optional Protocol of the Convention in an objective way and efficiently. Although the legislation recognizes formal independence of this entity, practically and financially the national preventive mechanism has dependence from government agencies, especially from executive agencies. Its nearly two year function as “national preventive mechanism” also proves this. During the past period since the national preventive mechanism has been established, instead of reporting before society as an independent entity, it is busy with denying the torture facts in prison facilities and produces annual reports and statements the content which is similar to those presented by corresponding government agencies.

Keeping the Azerbaijan reality, it should be noted that to prevent the torture cases or ill-treatment or degrading punishment in prison facilities effectively, besides the Commissioner, it is also important for independent non-governmental organizations that have corresponding experience to be recognized as “national preventive mechanisms.” National preventive mechanisms also should function in coordinated form, prepare joint annual reports and present to public and international organizations. In any other case, no word can be said about effective prevention of torture cases in prison facilities.

Legal condition of the prisoners: requirements of legislation and real view

According to the content of punishment-execution legislation, legal situation of prisoners should be understood as the fundamental rights of prisoners and the list of their duties as identified by the legislation. The legislation of Azerbaijan Republic on punishment-execution system has given a large space to legal situation of prisoner rights. The legislation has adapted the rights of prisoners to international standards and decreased the content and size of duties prisoners are entrusted significantly. The prisoners own the same rights and freedoms as other citizens of the country excluding the exceptions as stated in Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code of Azerbaijan Republic.

Strengthening the legal status of prisoners and protection of their rights and freedoms is the main duty of government and comes from the principles of international law.

According to the requirements of the legislation, the fundamental rights of prisoners are as follows:

-        to serve punishment in conditions providing respect towards human personality;

-        to be occupied with socially useful labor;

-        to have a rest;

-        to get pension and other social provisions;

-        to get first medical aid and medical treatment both as out patient and in hospital depending on medical opinion;

-        to participate in religious rituals;

-        to get legal aid;

-        to get education and vocational training;

-        the right to appeal;

-        personal security of prisoners, etc.

                

For the prisoner to serve punishment in condition providing respect to human personality is also one of basic principles of the international law. When saying condition providing respect to human personality, it includes creating material conditions and moral-psychological environment important for livelihood of human beings, which is stated both in international law, as well as in national legislation. Provision of important livelihood requirements for prisoners is the direct responsibility of government bodies executing punishment and their officials. If we take into consideration that imprisonment is in itself a punishment, keeping prisoners in a condition worse than as stated by the national legislation and international law is considered an ill-treatment and degrading and carries a meaning of revenge.

Based on international standards and experience, creating humane conditions in places of derivation from freedom (this includes prison facilities, pre-trial detention centers, temporary detention centers, hauptwache of military units and disciplinary detention centers, etc.), as well as provision of prisoners with necessary food and hygienic needs come from guarantee of the respect to their dignity.

Creating a condition providing respect to human personality in prison facilities comprises in itself the following:

-        placing the prisoner and normal density of prisoners in cells;

-        food provision;

-        lighting and ventilation of living spaces;

-        personal hygiene;

-        sanitation;

-        clothing and bedding, etc.

As it was stated above, excluding some of the newly built prison facilities in the country, the buildings of the most of prison facilities are very old. Prisoners are deprived of the opportunity to serve their punishment in conditions respecting human personality. Both in prison facilities, as well as in pre-trial detention places and temporary detention centers do not comply with international standards. In general, except the prison facility built several years ago and a pre-trial detention place in Nakhchivan, and also a pre-trial detention place #1 in Baku, the architecture and security system (the fence of prison facilities, the walls of the cells, etc.) of the rest of prison facilities in the country have a negative influence on the prisoners. Thus the majority of buildings that function as prison facilities have not been initially built to serve as prisons. They have initially been built totally for another reason and have later been turned into prison facilities. The walls of the most of prison facilities are almost falling down and the ceilings of cells are very low and the floors in almost all of them are of concrete. There are wooden floor in a very few of them. The roof of the prison facilities are made of the kind of slate that was used in Soviet times, which, according to experts is a big source of danger ecologically. Slate has high ability of transmitting sun beams, which paves the way for diseases like tuberculosis and etc. It is useless to talk about provision of 7 sq. km living space for each prisoner in prison cells, which are much far from modern international standards. The oldness of the buildings of prison facilities and incompatibility to international standards influences on the internal staff of these prison facilities, as well as to the condition of their canteens, their training and relaxation places, sport halls, work places (workshop), also kitchen, sanitation, laundry equipment and other stuff. It’s important that every prison has the above mentioned functioning facilities as they impact on daily lives of prisoners. As it was stated above, the buildings of most of prisons had been originally built for quite another reason, the building of facilities inside them were not originally planned. For example, the yards of some of the prisons are very small, in others, sanitation installations or laundry equipment are very old, in some of them sport halls are in very bad condition or the space is very small and are not provided with necessary installations, etc. In general, the current condition of the main and subsidiary buildings that provide living conditions for the inmate gives basis to say that there have not been created necessary conditions for respecting of personality of prisoners. The unfit condition of the material elements of vital requirements in their turn influences negatively on formation of normal moral-psychological environment. And formation of moral-psychological environment in a negative way also influences negatively to the feeling of respect to the rules of communal life.

There are also serious problems in nourishment of inmates in prison facilities. Thus as required in the legislation, every prisoner should be provided with the food of sufficient calorie that would preserve their health and strength and the food made according to the sanitary and hygienic requirements and with clean water. The age, health condition, religion and feature of the work of every inmate should be taken into consideration when providing them with food. It should be noted that, notwithstanding the above mentioned requirements of the legislation, there exist serious dissatisfaction among prisoners about the amount and quality of food and water they are provided with. The prisoners claim that they can not get food in the amount and quality as identified by the law and therefore have to get additional necessary food from their relatives. They also mention that they face challenges in getting drinking water. These cases are noticed more in temporary detention centers and pre-trial detention centers.

As it was stated above, there also exist serious problems in lighting and ventilation systems as the buildings of most prison facilities are very old. This is because the ceilings of living buildings and cells are so small and the windows are so narrow that the buildings and cells don’t get enough natural light (sun beams). The windows in most of cells do not open at all and they are covered with iron. The narrowness of windows causes problem in natual ventilation system of the buildings and cells as well. If we take into consideration that there is no artificial ventilation in some of the cells, it’s not hard to imagine the condition the prisoners live in stuffy cells. If we take into account that Azerbaijan is a tropical country and that temperature is usually not under 40 C degrees here in summer times, we can characterize the prison facilities as torture facilities. Lack of fresh air also helps spread of ilnesses, especially tuberculosis, which is an infectious disease.

The normative-legal acts identifies the prison facilities to be always kept clean and  tidy. And this means that the cells and other rooms should be clean. The prisoners also have to follow cleanliness. Shower and bath installations should be accessible for the inmates. Also, sanitation installations should be sufficient and clean and meet the requirements of inmates when they need. It should be mentioned that the serious problems still exist concerning personal hygenic and sanitation conditions. Especially the inmates kept in temporary detention centers use buckets instead of toilets to meet their natural needs. It means there are no toilets in those cells, which is degrading the dignity of individuals kept there.

The legislation also coniders it necessary to provide the prisoners with clean clothing fit to wear, also a separate bedding. In the prison facilities of the country, all the inmates wear uniforms of the same color and form. But in pre-trial detention centers individuals are allowed to wear civil cloths.

When it comes to provison of each prisoner with bedding, in some of the prison facilities this remains to be a problem. And this is connected directly with the density of prisoners. Although prisoners are provided with bedding and other necessary bedding stuff, most of them are usually old and not hygenic and unfit for use, which is very harmful for health.

2) As one of the important rights of prisoners, the right to be occupied with useful labor has been atracted in the legislation. In general, the right to be occupied with useful labor is one of the Constitutional rights of Azerbaijan citizens. It should be stresed as a positive case that this right has been included in the list of fundamental rights of prisoners. Thus if a prisoner is occupied in any labor during the term of serving punishment it influences the correction process of this prisoner and besides this it insures that the prisoner doesn’t spend the time empty and meaningless. Also, this helps them change their attitude to life in a positive way and helps to avoid despondence. Besides this to be occupied with any socially useful activity would help the prisoner not to feel as abondoned and would psycologically help them to feel as a useful personality both to society and family in future and prevent anger and aggression.

Labor activity would also make it easire for the prisoners’ future integration into labor market and give them opportunity to provide themselves and families financially. There should be created opportunities for the prisoners to get skills that would increase their potential in finding jobs in future with the purpose to help their future integration to society. Involving prisoners to work in heavy and compusory labor contradicts with the Convention on Compulsory Labor of the International Labor Organization.

During Soviet times, there were no any serious problem with regards to employment of prisoners. The government had taken up this responsibility. But now as the work places has sharply decreased due to transition to market economy, involvement in any socially useful labor stands as one of the urgent problems before the government and society. There are only very few work places for prisoners in prison facilities. For example, it was observed in the women prison that Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Public Union visited within the framework of the project that there is only one carpet viewing workshop and one atelier, where only 7-8% of inmates can be employed. But as there are not much orders in this atelier, the work is limited here. Also, there is a course on carpet weaking in this women prison. The inmates working in this course are paid 75 AZN – a minimum salary. And they are allowed to spend only a very few amount of this salary, which is about 4 AZN. The rest of the salary is transferred into the bank account of the worker – women prisoners. Also, compensation for the harm given to the appellant is also deducted from this amount. We think that it is important and requirement of the day to increase the salary in this women prison up to the amount of average salary in the Republic. Except those working in carpet workshop or tailor’s and those working in economy of the prison facility, the rest of the inmates are not busy with any of useful labor and there has’t been created proper conditions for this either.

The situation in the prison facilities for male inmates is the same as in the one for females. The officials of the prison system connect the unemployment problem in prison facilities with the transition from planned economy to market economy in the country and state that as the work places went out of the monopoly of government and transferred to different enterpreneurs, there exist such a problem in whole country, including prison facilities. They also claim that the products the inmates produce are not competitive as the market requires to produce a product of better quality with new technology and for less money. At the moment, the prison facilities don’t have such an opportunity to open work places provided with new technology experimented in the world.

1)     The national legislation and international legal acts the country has joined identifies provision of prisoners with work places as the responsibility of the officials managing the prison system. Also, the authorities are not legally allowed to use labor as an element of  punishment. Especially the international acts (European Prison Rules and etc.) prohibit creating working conditions for the prisoners worse than the conditions created for the other citizens of the society. They also recommend the officials of independent states to create conditions for young prisoners to acquire usage of advanced technologies and with this purpose involve them in courses to improve their professional skills.

2)     The rights of prisoners for rest originates from the Constitution. It is everybody’s Constitutional rights to have a rest, which also concerns prisoners. According to the content of international and local legislation, when saying right to have arest, it should be understood prisoners’ opportunities in prison facilities for cultural and resting activities for provision of their physical and moral health. The volume of the rights of prisoners for rest should be the same as with the free citizens. Thus the prisoners also have the rights not to work beyond working hours, weekly holidays and annual paid vacation. Also, the prisoner have the rigths not to work and have a rest during holidays – non-working days. The legislation also has identified special privilages as well as additional holiday days (hours) for certain prisoners taking into consdieration their sex, reproductive function, the degree of disability. Besides this women are free from work for certain period of time due to pregnancy and childbirth.This right concerns also to disabled prisoners. Although the working hours of prisoners of this category is less than the others, they are paid equally.

It should be noted that as there is an employment problem in the prison facilities, the prisoners have a lot of time to exercize their “rights for rest”.

3)     The country’s legislation reflects in itself the rights of prisoners to pension or social provisions. The prisoners have the rights to get social provisions when they reach certain age, get ill, disabled or loose their working ability. But there are serious problems in realization of the rights of prisoners to pension and social provisions. And these problems originate mainly from unemployment problem of the prisoners. As it was mentioned above, majority of those serving punishment in prison facilities in the country is unemployed. There are only very few number of prisoners that are employed within the prison facilities and they face problems of insurance and formalization of their work experience. In most cases, the management of the prison facilities don’t register the working prisoners officially. In the result, the period they work is not considered officially as work experience. Besides this, absence of documents of prisoners, especially their insurance documents prevents them from getting pension and other social provisions.

4)     Protection of health rights of people and their social provision should be one of the main objectives of state. According to the requirement of international acts and national legislation, prisoners also should have the same opportunities as with  the other citizens of the country for getting medical aid. The volume and quality of medical service in prison facilities should be the same as with the medical service in other hospitals out of the prison. The objectives of the government to protect physical and psycological health of prisoners should be fulfilled regularly as required.

The condition in prison facilities, air circulation and heating systems in cells and other living spaces, following hygenic rules, labor conditions and resting regime, moral-psycological environment and other factors also directly influence on  physical and psycological health of the prisoners. We gave information about the condition of Treatment Center of Prison system and Treatment Center for Tuberculosis infected prisoners and treatment with the patients in these centers and medical service. According to the requirement of the legislation, there should function a corresponding medical-sanitary department in each prison facility. And these departments should be provided at least with one doctor. Also, the patients should have an access to psychiatrist, dentist and eye doctor. These medical-sanitary departments should be also provided with suitable condition, where patients can be examined, as well as get treatment as out patient and also as on sanitary basis. Unfortunately, there is no medical center in some of the prison facilities and in most of those where there is a medical center, there is a lack of doctors specialized in above mentioned areas. Especially, the lack of specialized psychiatrists is sharply felt in these centers. The officials of the prison system ground this with lack of specialized psychiatrists able to work with prisoners in the country. They mentioned that there is taken necessary measurements to overcome this problem. It should be noted that besides psychiatrists, there is also lack of psycologists in prison facilities. If we take into consideration that moral-psycologicl environment is not healthy in prison facilities, it is not difficult to imagine in what constant intense situation the prisoners serve their punishment. One of the reasons for this tension is rude treatment towards the prisoners by the personnel of prison system. It is impossible to deny the fact that they insult the prisoners with improper swearing and degrade their dignity. For this reason, the prisoners have the need for psycologist appointment. The officials of the Ministry of Justice informed us that in order to provide the prison facilities with psycologists, they got an agreement with corresponding universities in the country that produce specialists in this area. According to the information provided by them, although around 25 psycologists work in prison facilities, this number doesnn’t meet the needs. They also say that the lack of psycologists is also connected with the fact that male psycologists are not inclined to work at prison facilities and female psycologists don’t tend to work at prison facilities at all. And in the result, there is a lack of specialized personnel for psycological rehabilitation of prisoners. To solve the problem, the officials say, several specialists/psycologists have been sent abroad for courses to improve their professional skills. They think that this will help to solve the problem at least partially.  

 

There exist serious problems also in provision of medical departments of prison facilities with modern medical equipment and medications. And this doesn’t let to identify the ilnesses of prisoners such as physical and psycological, or any injuries prisoners suffer on time and applying necessary treatment methods and identify the ilnesses of prisoners in initial stage. If we add indifference and unprofessionalism of doctors, it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine how the rights of prisoners to health are protected. In the result, spread of infectious diseases increases. And also the number of those died or disabled in the result of an ilness increases.

According to the requirements of the legislation, each prisoner should go through regular medical check up. Also, the prisoners should have access to medical facilities functioning outside of prison facilities. But the above mentioned requirements of the legislation also is approached indifferently. The related prison authorities do not realize the wish of prsioners to go through medical check up or treatment in a medical center outside of prison facility due to subjective reasons. The need of prisoners for medications are met by the relatives of prisoners. Although the legislation has identified provision of prisoners with free medication, the management of prison facilities attach no importance to it.

Doctors working in prison facilities should report the management and prepare corresponding recommendations on the following:

-        the amount and quality, etc. of the products, food and water given to prisoners;

-        sanitary-hygenic situation of the prison facilities and the prisoners themselves;

-        suitability and cleanliness of clothing and bedding of prisoners.

Recommendations on above mentioned should be carefully checked and shortages should be eliminated. The level of medical service the women prisoners are provided is also not heartwarming. Thus there is no adequate conditons for pregnant or women with kids, as well as for those delivering babies. There is a lack of gynaecologist and medical personnel in prison facilities to realize delivery. Pregnant or a woman who just delivered a baby can not get necessary gynaecological aid. In some cases to realize a delivery, women are not taken to a medical facility outside of prison on time. And the delivery is realized in the prison facility where the woman serves her punishment, which is against international practice. The international practice considers it acceptable to realize delivery in civil hospitals.

There does not exist a building with necessary conditions for the women prisoners with babies. This is also a problem that needs to have absolute solution.

The prisoners suffering from psycological ilness in the country are sent to corresponding medical center at the Ministry of Health. But in some cases this process is realized by final decison of the court. Until the court decision, in most cases the psycologically ill prisoners are kept in the same place as with others, which does not comply with the requirements of neither international law, nor national legislation. Besides this, this also jeopardizes the security of other prisoners as well. Also, during the period until the court decision, no pychiatric treatment is done for such patients. The level of condition and quality of medical aid in prison facilities where psycologically ill prisoners are kept is not adequate. The personnel of medical center also treat patients rudely. That’s why there is a need to build a psychiatric clinic for psycologically ill prisoners that would meet corresponding standards.

1)     According to the requirement of the legislation, the prisoners are given opportunity to realize their religious rituals, also to get and keep necessary religious literature in prison facilities. The prisoners are not prohibited to meet with the representatives of religon they worship. Also, the ill prisoners are allowed to invite a religious representative from outside to realize certain religious rituals. As the majority of population in the country worship Islam, there are certain places for prayers.

2)     According to international practice, all prisoners have the rights to be involved in cultural activities and get education aimed at their personal development. According to national legislation, the inmates in prison facilities under 40 years old, should be engaged in compulsory education. This concerns mainly illiterate and especially the teenagers. Those higher 40 years old, also invalids of first and second degree are involved in general secondary education according to their own choice. But the level of the program taught in prison facilities does not meet the requirements of modern world. The prisoners are not introduced to compoter programs at all. The legislation also considers professional skills training for prisoners besides their secondary education. The situation with professional skills training is not satisfactory either. The problems exists especially in acquiring necessary literature and applying practical experience. It is not allowed for the prisoners to get education outside the prison facility. Participation of society in education process has been organized very weak, they practically are not involved into this process. Stimulation of teenagers to get education is not done, in some cases the lack of specialized teachers are clearly felt. The educational programs taught in prison facilities can not play an important role in preparing the prisoners, especially the teenagers to  getting to freedom and their correction and integration into society.

3)     The right of prisoners to legal aid is also identified by legislation. This right of prisoners start from the moment they are arrested and can last during the period of their imprisonment and after that. The national legislation allows the arrested person  to be provided with free lawyer and legal consultation at any time. But the lawyer’s responsibilities are limited and therefore has limited opportunities to protect. For this reason, the lawyers can not protect the arrested, accused or imprisoned persons fully. In most cases  the interrogatory bodies invite lawyers only after the interrogation process of the accused is done, while they should do it at the moment when the accused is arrested. And this in its turn hinders to get quality legal aid on time. As it was in Soviet times, the prosecutor control over courts still exists.  That’s why it is not possible to follow dispute principles during court processes. The courts willingly or unwillingly become biased and tend to support the position of the prosecutor, which impedes the lawyer not to protect the rights of the convicted rationally.

4)     The prisoners have the right to write a letter to the government agencies, public organizations or high ranked officials for any reason, to make recommendations or complain. The appeals are sent to their adressees by the management of the prison facilities. The entity or related official to whom the letter, recommendaiton or complain is addressed, should answer the letter on time as identified by the law and should not delay for no reason. The prisoner has the right to appeal to higher entity or court if the appeal is rejected or the entity where it was addressed delays the answer. It is unacceptable to persecute a prisoner for any appeal made by him/her. Prisoners have the right to meet with the mangement or official of the prison facility, where he serves his punishment on his problem or any related issues. Based on normative-legal acts, except the appeal made to the Commissioner on Human Rights (Ombudsman),other appeasl made by prisoners are going through censorship of management. Also, the appeal made to Ombudsman should be sent out within not more than 1 day, except non-working days and holidays. The prisoners also can benefit from their right to appeal to court, prosecutor’s office and president of the country on the issues concerning their punishment, including subsitution of their imprisonment with a lighter punishment, conditional early release from prison, postponement or cancellation of serving punishment, changing location or type of prison facility, asking for pardon, and asking for sending to medical center, and etc.

5)     There occurs problems in realization of the rights of prisoners concerning the appeals they make. Thus although the legislation gives opportunity for prisoners to make an appeal without any censorship, in fact the management of all the prison facilities censor all the appeals made by the prisoners. In most cases, the letters sent by prisoners to different government agencies are left without an answer. Self-censorship is very strong among prisoners. This is mainly connected with letters of critical content. Because prisoners deviate from expressing any critical opinion or complain on problems in prison facilities, as well as in any other issues related to prisoners themselves. This deviation is also connected with the fear to face persecution and torture. There can be given numerous examples of different physical and psycological pressure facts on prisoners for expressing a critical opinion, or complaining from management of prison facilities in Azerbaijan by the management or other personnel of the prison facility.

6)     As it was mentioned above, prisoners can appeal to court on the issues such as early release from serving the sentence as identified by court decision, substitution of the unserved part of punishment with a lighter type of punishment, conditional early release, changing the type of prison facility and for applying amnesty act. Such humanistic position of the legislation should be appreciated as a positive step. But the fact that prisoner can do this only through the management of the prison facility and that reference on the prisoner provided by the management of the prison facility is included among the documents of appeal made by prisoner is a norm limiting the rights of prisoner. Besides limiting the rights of prisoner, this norm makes the final decision of the court on the appeal of prisoner dependent from the recommendation of the management of the prison facility. Experience shows that prisoners have to bribe the management of prison facility in the form of different amount of money in order to get a positive recommendation from them. This can be confirmed by former psisoners, who have previously made use of above mentioned rights.

7)     One of the substantial rights of prisoners is personal security. According to the content of this right, the lives, health or personality of prisoners are protected by international law and national legislation. Thus prisoners in prison facilities should not face any threat neither by other prisoners, nor by any other individuals. This means they should serve their punishment in in a secure and healthy environment with respect to their dignity. But there still exist the rules from Soviet times in prison facilities, which increases probability of risks for the prisoners’ security. And these are the rules that have not been identified by any legislation. These rules come from dependence of prisoners from other prisoners (“legal thieves”) and entities that they identify among themselves besides the management of prison facility. These rules also have a force to make prisoners to act even upon orders of a person outside of prison – a former prisoner, or a prisoner serving punishment in the same prison. The prisoners braking the rules are punished by other prisoners. This punishment can be resulted even with the death of the prisoner. According to these rules, prisoner gather money among themselves and give to the person (prisoner) they choose and that person has an authority to decide on the fate of this money. Prisoners value the rules that have force among themselves more fair and humanistic than the norms reflected in the legislation. But experience shows that these rules are more advantageous for the prisoners who are financially sustainable.

The management of prison facilities do not tend to prevent the rules and stratification among prisoner, although they are aware of it. But comparing to previous years, the influence of the entities established among prisoners themselves and authority (“legal thieves”) has been decreased.

Substantial rights of individuals detained in pre-trial detention centers and temporary detention centers of the Police

When individuals detained by law-enforcement bodies are arrested, they probability of risks of abuse in initial stage by those who has authority is quite big. That’s why international legal norms and national legislation has limited the authority of law-enforcement bodies on the individuals detained in Temporary Deteintion Cells or pre-trial detention centers by certain provisions. These provision are valued as the rights that form the basis of protection of the person detained. These rights include the following: informing the family or a close one of the person detained; to meet confidentially with a lawyer chosen by the detainee or appointed by government to get professional legal aid; and to go through medical check up. These rights are considered to protect the detainees from tortures, ill-treatment and punishment.

There exist serious problems concerning the above mentioned provisions. Thus, the law enforcement bodies do not immediately inform the family and close ones about the detainee. Especially the police is indifferent towards these rights of the detainee. Some law-enforcement bodies realize the right of the detainee to be provided with a lawyer. Involvement of a lawyer in the process of interrogation of the detainee is very important. Involvement of lawyer in interrogation process should also be evaluated as a guarantee for protection of the detainee from any kind of ill-treatment and cruel behavior.Because in some cases, the personnel of law-enforcement bodies perceive interrogation of the detainee as getting confession by him and in this case they tend to use violent methods. Involvement of a lawyer is the main guarantee for deviation of law-enforcement bodies to use such methods. But in some cases the law-enforcement bodies invite lawyer only at the end of interrogation or in the next day, which is beside being against the law, also weakens the protection of the detainee.

Medical check up of the detainee by a doctor can also play a main role in his protection. Because this would deviate the law-enforcement bodies to apply physical pressure and cause damage to them. But the reality shows that medical check up of detainees are realized in rare cases, or even if he is examined by a doctor, the results of the examination is not officially registered.

Although we gave information above about pre-trial detention centers, we haven’t talked about temporary detention centers of the Ploice. The police is considered the biggest law-enforcement body in the country struggling against crime and criminality. However, the police is also considered a body that violates the rights of detainees most and treats them with cruelty. 

There function  police offices and police departments in all regions of the country. There are temporary detention centers  at the police offices (departments) for temporary detention of individuals. According to the legislation, individuals can not be kept in temporary detention centers for more than 48 hours and the detainee should be either taken to court or released by the end of this term. When court gives decision about the arrest of the detainee, he can not be to temporary detention center again and should be sent to pre-trial detention center.

It should be noted that although some of the temporary detention centers have just been built and given to use, still most of them do not meet international standards. Thus some of temporary detention centers are not large enough and have adequate lighting and do not meet sanitary requirements. Provision of cells with necessary means for resting (table attached to floor, chair, etc.) is not adequate. There is also no necessary conditions in toilet and there is a lack of facilities for washing. Also, there exist problems in provision with clean mattres and bed-spread.

The size of temporary detention centers do not correspond the number of detainees. For example, in international experience the desired size of cells should be 7 sq.m area with 2 or more meters between walls and 2,5 meters between ceilings and floors. It should be mentioned that this is a desired standard for detention of one person. In temporary detention centers in Azerbaijan, usually 3 or 4 people are kept in the cells designed for 1 person.

The same situation exists in pre-trial detention centers as well. We mentioned above that only one pre-detention center in Azerbaijan, which is located in Baku meets modern standards. The pre-trial detention centers #3 in Shuvalan and #2 in Ganja are very old and almost unfit for use. The government has expressed its intention to close down these detention centers many times. When it comes to the pre-trial detention center under supervision of the Ministry of National Security, although they are clean, they do not meet modern standards either. The sun lights falling into the cells are very weak. There is little opportunity for reading and the cells, where at least 2 people are kept are very far from desired standards. Although UN Committe Against Tortures has notified the government about the importance of closing down this pre-trial detention center, it still continues functioning. 

Taking into consideration that those kept in temporary detention centers of the police need more protection, tt is important to adopt a new law on protection of such people corresponding the international standards.

It has been already several years that a draft law “On the arrest of suspected and accused”that would identify the rights of those under interrogation, as well as the status of pre-trial detention cneters has passed through two readings in Milli Majlis – the legislative body of the country. But for some reason its submission to third reading to be adopted is being delayed. If that law was adopted, the persons detained would get extensive rights, including the right to meet with their families.

Existing problems in treatment with prisoners and respecting their inherent dignity

 

To treat prisoners in a humanist way and respecting their dignity is the direct responsibility of the personnel in prison facilities realizing control. Both the international law, as well as national legislation reflect in themselves the importance of treatment with prisoners within the framework of ethical norms. The article 10 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states: “All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.” Existence of normal relations between the personnel of the prison facilities and prisoners plays the role of basis for establishment of humanistic environment. And lack of normal relations creates fertile conditions for applying torture and ill-treatment towards prisoners in prison facilities. The European Convention on “protection of human rights and Fundamental Freedoms” (hereinafter referred to as European Convention), UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and other regional and international documents unanimously prohibit torture and ill-treatment in behavior with prisoners. The government’s criminal legislation identifies criminal liability for tortures, and criminal procedure legislation takes into account the evidences acquired through torturing having no legal importance.

The personnel of prison facilities are divided into several categories: managerial staff of prison facilities; personnel realizing internal control; personnel realizing external security; medical staff; social service personnel; those realizing training and education process; personnel responsible for procurement issues, and etc. All the personnel of above mentioned categories more or less get into contact with prisoners. If all these personnel fulfill their responsibilities with conscience and treat prisoners in a humanistic way, it would both help in normal work of the prison facilities as well as can have a positive influence on correction of prisoners. Among the above mentioned categories, treatment of management of prison facilities and those directly involved in internal control with prisoners plays an a significant role. The management of prison facilities carries a direct responsibility in management of the facility, provision of the rights of prisoners, in general in solution of all the problems occuring inside of the prison facility. The chief staff of every prison facility should take care of prisoner and take necessary measurements to prevent any behavior with prisoners contradicting the law. Besides this, they also should play an important role in establishing contacts between prisoners and outer world. The legislation and punishment-execution system aims at directing the management of prison facilities in their turn to direct the personnel under their supervision to demonstrate real professionalism and treat prisoners decently, as well as to pay special attention to security and stability issues. The experience of punishment-execution system proves that establishing positive relations with prisoners should be the main peculiarity of prison personnel.

In Azerbaijan experience, in most cases the relations between the prison personnel realizing control and prisoner are not adequate. The relations of personnel with prisoners is usually of formal character. The followings prove the formality of these relations: indifferent attitude of prison controllers to appeals and complaints of prisoners; making the prisoner to stop and stand face to wall when he/she meets anybody when walking in the corridor; making the prisoner to stand up when seeing any personnel of prison facility also demanding a prisoner to stand in “still” position and compelling him to do so; to make the prisoners walking inside of the prison facility to walk their heads down, also demanding them to keep their hands behind their back or neck; to threaten or frighten the prisoner by waving bludgeon or any other force, moving them down and up, etc.

Besides those mentioned above, there are heard facts of torture and ill-treatment prisoners face very often. Such behavior by prison personnel is connected also with the fact that they have not acquired appropriate culture of behavior with prisoners adequately. According to the information provided by Azerbaijan Committee Against Tortures, which is protecting the rights of prisoners in prison facilities, during the current year at least 120 prisoners have faced torture in the result of which  some of them have died. The Committee also has stated that there are also a big number of prisoners faced with ill-treatment and degrading dignity by personnel of prison facilities. It should be noted that the above mentioned number provided by the Azerbaiijan Committee Against Tortures includes only those appealed to the Committe. In reality, the majority of prisoners in prison facilities, Police cells and pre-trial detention centers face torture at least once. There is always a risk for them to face a behavior degrading their dignity by prison personnel. 

As it was mentioned earlier in this report the persons detained face torture and behavior degrading their dignity mostly in initial stage, at the temporary detention centers under the control of the police. This can be connected either to get confession by the detainee, or if the detainee shows resistance to a police officer or an officer of any other law-enforcement body. There is a big risk for the detainees kept in pre-trial detention centers to face torture or any ill-treatment. When the interrogators can not get evidence from a detainee that would be important for that specific case or if a detainee avoids or refuses answering questions, they implement methods of torture or any other cruel behavior. Torture cases are very rare in prison facilities of different regimes where prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment according to court decision. However, there are also cases of behavior degrading their dignity and cruel ill-treatment towards these prisoners. The motives of these actions are very diverse.

The types of torture observed more in prison facilities of the country include the following: beating a prisoner by one or several people once or several times with using hand and foot blows, or rubber bludgeon or iron bludgeon on prisoners with their hands tied or untied, in sitting position or lying on the floor; injecting electric current into the body of prisoner, squeezing nails and toes of prisoners between door; taking out the nails and toes of prisoners; keeping prisoner locked inside for a long time and depriving from meeting their natural needs; depriving the prisoners who need medical aid from seeing a doctor and etc.

When it comes to cruel treatment, as well as behavior degrading the dignity of a prisoner, there can be given examples such as, insulting prisoners by improper swearing many times by personnel of law-enforcement bodies, keeping prisoners in dirty places, not letting them to go outside to meet their natural needs, keeping them in the cells without heating and air circulation system, and etc. The cases of psycological abuse of prisoners in prison facilities have also been widely spread. Such cases mainly happen in temporary detention centers or pre-trial detention centers in early stage of detention. Psycological abuses are most of the times used during interrogation process to achieve confession by detainees. When it comes to the types of psychological abuse, it includes interrogating the detainee in the middle of night when there is no necessity, threatening the detainee to bring his close relatives, especially the wife and others to the prison facility and etc.

With the purpose to help regulation of relations between the prisoners kept in prison facilities and the personnel of these facilities within the framework of legislation and humanism, the international entities have been giving various recommendations and proposals to power entities of the country.  Besides this, international human rights organizations organize training and seminars for the personnel of prison facilities and trips to other countries for them so that they can acquire international experience. The officials of power entities, especially of the Ministry of Justice travel to various European countries frequently to learn their experience in prison system.

Also, corresponding to international commitments, Azerbaijan government recruits personnel in prison system through written and oral examination. According to the requirement of the legislation, the candidates applying to work in prison system, should go through written and oral interview and if successful, should be sent to necessary courses and only after this can  start working in prison facilities. It has been already several years that hundreds of youths have been hired to prison system since this process has started. Although the theoretical knowledge, behavior with prisoners of these youths have positively changed comparing to their ancestors, there still exist numerous shortcomings related to personnel-prisoner relations in places of deprivation from freedom. For example, according to the information provided by the officials, in the result of check up in prison facilities, there have been found and taken out from prisoners more than 3,100 prohibited belongings, including 747 cutting and drilling tools, 140 liters of alcohol,  and 89 mobile phones. Also, there have been found 41 facts related narcotics, 207 grams of different narcotics, including 153, 8 grams of heroin. In fact such cases are much more than it is stated here. Undoubtedly, the management and personnel of prison facilities had role in transferring the above mentioned prohibited belongings into the prison facilities. Even if they don’t have a role in it, they should carry responsibility as stated in the legislation.

According to another information provided by prison service, during the check ups done in prison facilities, there have been identified cases, like  transfer of some prisoners, who didn’t have positive characteristics into settlement type prison facility and not placing ill prisoners to hospitals on time in the result  of which one prisoner has died as he was not placed in hospital on time and the percentage of those committing crimes transferred to settlement type prison facility has increased by 7% for the past two years.

Although the authorities, corresponding ministries, especially the Ministry of Justice realizing management over places of deprivation from freedom punish some of those who do not fulfill their responsibilities properly, it has not prevented the wide spread of negative cases in this area. For the past year 5 prison chiefs have been removed from their positions for illegality happening in the prison facility they were heading. Two of them have been totally removed from the entities of justice system. Besides the chiefs of the prison facilities, many other employees of the prison facilities where serious violations happened have also been punished. 

Ombudsman office and civil society institutions also realize enlightenment work, prepares and distributes reports and information, present different recommendations including improvement of legislation to related authorities and the society.

The work done by different entities serves regulation of relations between the personnel of prison facilities and prisoners in humanistic way and within the framework of law and by this to ensure protection of the rights of prisoners.

 

Civic participation and public control mechanism in correction process of prisoners

In countries where exist democratic values, civic control mechanism of civil society institutions and local mass media entities over the work of prison facilities and their officials is very strong. In international experience, civic control is realized by non-governmental organizations and mass media entities by monitoring prison facilities. These monitorngs are done totally independent from the officials of the prison facilities. The non-governmental organizations prepare recommendations and report based on the results of monitoring and make it public and present to authorities of the prison facilities.

The experience of the devleopped countris shows that civic control mechanism in prison facilities is not only effective mechanism for protection of prisoners’ rights, but it’s also one of the main means of protection of prisoners from tortures, ill-treatment or behavior. Existence of civic control makes the officials, as well as all personnel of prison facilities to be more polite  with prisoners. The international experience has proved that civic control institution helps the prison facilties that had been considered closed for a long time, finally to turn into an open space for society. The population was able to get into contact with prisoners through individuals realizing civic control and non-governmental organizations and get information about what prisoners are doing during the term they serve punishment, etc. Also, they had the chance to express opinion about the negative cases heppening in prison facilities.

The term “civic control” mechanism is the product of western thinking and it can be realized in its full essence only in democratic countries. In former Soviet Union, civic control was reflected in legislation. But as Correctional Labor Facilities were of camp character, thus there couldn’t be a word about transparency, or real cvic control.

The legislation of Azerbaijan republic also has reflected participation of public unions in correction process of prisoners and civic control in prison facilities in corresponding norms. Thus according to the Code of Execution of Punishments, public unions participate in correction of prisoners and realizes civic control over the work of facilities or entities executing punishment (article 20.1). This code has identified executive power offices, more concretly Ministry of Justice to authorize public unions to realize civic control. Thus it is regulated by “the guidelines on civic participation and civic control over the work of facilities realizing execution of punishment” approved by the order of Minisry of Justice on 25.04.2006, as well as the decree of the Cabinet of Ministers on “Organization of the work of council of patronage at the educational facilities  and approval of its action plan” and statue “on parent committe.” The last two normative legal acts regulate the mechanism of civic control in prison facilities for juveniles. The general part of “the guidelines on civic participation and civic control over the work of facilities realizing execution of punishment” approved by the order of the Ministry of Justice on 25.04.2006 states that this normative-legal act has been prepared based on the Code of Execution of Punishment, the statue on the Ministry of Justice, as well as European Prison Guidelines and other international legal documents. Other articles of the guidelines reflect the goals and principles of civic control over the work of entities or facilities executing punishment and correction of prisoners, as well as establishment of Public Committe with this purpose, and the form of work of this Committe and other issues.

The guidelines also reflect that the main purpose in realization of civic participation in correction process of prisoners and civic control in prison facilities is to achieve the goals of punishment given to prisoners and helping the prison facilities in their work. Besides this, it has been noted that civic control is based on principles of rule of law, objectivity, transparency, impartiality, encouraging prisoners to obey the law and increasing the corrective influence of punishment.

It is also identified by the guidelines that the civic control in prison facilities should be formed from non-governmental organizations, including the organizations working in the sphere of human rights protection, legal enlightenment, education and health, as well as religious entities and famous scientists, culture workers and other public figures. Also, the Public Committee members should be selected for one ypear term by the Election Commission approved by the collegium of the Ministry of Justice and headed by the deputy Minister of Justice.

In general, although participation of society in correction process of prisoners, as well as the purpose of civic control over prison facilities carries democratic feature, the fact that the members of the Public Committe are selected by the Election Commission organized by the Ministry of Justice significantly limits the independence of Committee members, as well as makes them dependent from the Ministry of Justice. And this in its turn reduces the effectiveness of civic control mechanism. It should be noted that the Election Commission that realizes selection of Public Committe members is headed by the deputy of the Minister of Justice. This factor makes the selection of Committee members dependent from the consideration of the Ministry of Justice. Thus the nominee to Public Committee needs to be loyal to the work of the Ministry of Justice and shouldn’t talk about the main problems existing in prison facilities at all, or prefer to speak about these problems in a way that wouldn’t irritate the corresponding entities. The NGOs, or individuals, who are more critical, or have independent positions don’t even have a chance to be Committee members. Experience shows that until today no Committee member has been in a critical position on tyranny, torture facts, cases resulting with prisoners’death, etc. Thus although several death cases have happened last year and the current year, the Public Committe, or none of its member has not investigated the reasons of deaths and abstained from talking about these cases.

The guidelines identified several forms of civic participation and civic control. They include:

-        helping prisoners in getting general education and vocational training;

-        helping effective spending of prisoners’ free time, involving them in useful labor;

-        providing legal aid to prisoners;

-        helping prisoner to be involved in amateur talent activities;

-        improvement of living and medical-sanitary situation of prisoners;

-        helping prisoners,or their close ones financially or in any other ways;

-        helping the prisoners in solution of their problems, such as living space, getting jobs, medical or social provision, social-psycological rehabilitation and other issues after release from prison;

-        helping prison facilities in strengthening their material-technical bassis;

-        to review appeals on violations of the rights and freedoms of prisoners, forwarding them to corresponding entity through management or to appeal the management on provision of the rights of prisoners;

-        to submit recommendations to the Ministry of Justice on improvement of legislation regulating the work of prison facilities, including on violations of the rights of prisoners and any shortcoming in the prison facilities.

Although the above mentioned does not include all of the forms of activities related to correction of prisoners and realization of civic control, they can be considered the main ones. The Public Committe can not use all of the forms of work as identified by the legislation. It’s very difficult to give an example of cases when prisoners and their close ones have been provided with financial and other kind of help or providing the prisoners with living space, jobs, etc. after the release from prison. Besides this, there hasn’t been released any information about the solution of substantial problems in prison facilities by Commiittee members, or any recommendation submitted to the Ministry of Justice. 

According to the guidelines, the Public Committe exists of 11 members. The Committe identifies its work principle as agreed with the Ministry of Justice. Also, an agreement is gained on joint activity with the management of different prison facilities. It has been stated in the guidelines that the Public Committee realizes its functions through visiting (monitoring) the prison facilities. In this case, at least two members of the Public Committe visit a prison facility by notifying the management of that prison facility in advance. The legislation doesn not allow monitoring done by only one member of the Committe or without notifying the management of the prison facility. This prohibition not only limits the independence of Committe member, but also puts under doubt to prepare objective statement during monitoring prison facilities. The officials of the Ministry of Justice say that it is prohibited by the legislation for only one member to do monitoring in prison facilities because they think that they can be biased. It should be noted that, the fact that a Committe member can not visit prison facilities without notifying the management does not coinside with  “civic control” function of this Committe. It can be seen also in the final statements made by the Committe members during visits to prison facilites. Thus the facts about the situation of prison facilities stated in the final statements made during the visits do not coinside with the public opinion in most cases, and is distinguished with closeness to the position of the Ministry of Justice.  In the result, there is formed doubts to the sincerity of the Committe member who has done the monitoring and the statement is evaluated as the result of agreement made with the Ministry of Justice.

Also, the legislation includes the opportunities for other NGOs not elected for the Public Committe to monitor prison facilitites, practically no civil society institution are let to do so. Before the Public Commttee was established, at least several NGOs could enter prison facilites and monitor although with limited opportunities, now it is very difficult for them to do that. The government has achieved to push aside NGOs from this process, giving exuse that the Public Committe is realizing civic control function.

As we can see from what is mentioned above, both the weakness of the legal basis and establishment of Public Committee by the Ministry of Justice made the work of this Committee dependent from the government bodies. In other words, it gives basis to characterize the Public Committee  as an entity realizing “civic control” of the Ministry of Justice. 

Parcipation of the Public Committee in correction process of prisoners in prison facilites and its public oversight has been limited with the prison facilities under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice and therefore the prison facilities that are under the supervision of other power entities are left aside. Thus the pre-trial prison facility under the Ministry of Defence, temporary detention centers at the Police, hauptwache of the Ministry of Defence and Disciplinary Detention places are not still considered open spaces for public. There has not been intended civic control over these prison facilities.

The legislation also considers establishment of “Patronage Council” and “Parents Committee”s to participate in correction process of juvenile prisoners and civic control over prison facilities.  The activities of “Patronage Council” and “Parents Committe”s are regulated based on the Code of Execution of Punishment of Azerbaijan Republic, as well as the decree of the Cabinet of Ministers dated January 15, 2001 on “organization of the work of patronage council and approval of its action plan” and the Regulations “on the work of the Parents Committe  in educational facilites” dated April 9, 2002. According to the legislation, the main function of “Patronage Council” is to help the management of any educational facility in educational-training process and strengthening its material-technical basis, solution of the problems of prisoners related to their social protection and helping the released in finding jobs and necessary living conditions. The Patronage Council is composed of representatives of government bodies, offices and organizatios, public unions and other organizations, and other individuals wishing to be involved in the work of this Council.

The main duties of Parent Committe include the following: helping to establish mutual contacts with the management of the prison facilities and the families of prisoners, to have educative influence on prisoners, helpin prisoners in acquiring certain professions, to get secondary education, helping to strengthen the results of educative work done with the prisoners already released from prison, to help the juvenile prisoners who have lost their families and deprived from patronage of their parents, working with corresponding local government entities to help their reintegration into society so that they can turn into decent citizens, and helping in effective use of the free time of prisoners, and etc.  The Parent Committe is composed of the parents of the prisoners, their legal representatives and other close relatives on voluntary basis.

The content of the legislation clearly shows that the main objective of both Patronage Council and Parent Committe consists of helping defending the rights and freedoms of prisoners in their full meaning, helping in the work of organizing necessary living conditions for them in prison facilities, as well as helping them in their correction process so that they can reintegrate into society as decent citizens.

Reflection of participation of Patronage Council and Parent Comitte as independent entities in correction process of juvenile prisoners should be valued as a positive case. But although the above mentioned entities have sufficient rights in correction of juveniles and related important objectives, Azerbaijan experience shows that these entities are not active enough to fulfill the duties as defined by legislation. In general, there is enough information neither of the work of Patronage Council nor on Parent Committee. The above mentioned entities themselves also do not tend to give any information about their activities, although according to the content of the legislation they are considered public organizations and realize “civic control” function. These two entities, that prefer more to collaborate with the corresponding entities of the Ministry of Justice avoid collaboration with independent civil society institutions.

The legislation also reflects that the entities like Patronage Council and Parent Committee have the function to realize civic control function only in educational facilities for juveniles under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice. It has not been reflected in the legislation that they can realize civic control also in pre-trial detention centers, which should be considered as a rude mistake in the legislation. Thus, experience shows that the rights of juveniles are violated more in pre-trial detention centers. The cases of torture and ill-treatment towards juveniles increase. Sometimes because of primary interrogation process lasting more than several months, results in deviation of juveniles from going to school. Also keeping juveniles in the same cells as with the adults creates conditions for falling under their influence. For the above mentioned negative cases not to happen, it is important to strengthen educative work with the juvenile kept in pre-trial detention centers. For this it is important to include related norms into the legislation that would allow civic control also in detention centers.

Besides this dependence of Patronage Council from the Ministry of Justice should be reduced and there should be given equal opportunities for all NGOs to be represented in the Council. Also, all the prison facilities for juveniles should be accessible for civil society institutions.

 

Protection of the rights of imprisoned

Protection of the rights and freedoms of prisoners should be done not only in prison facilities, but also after they are released from prisons. Because after leaving prison facilities, some of the prisoners have problems with living space, while other have problems with financial provisions and some others related to their health. That’s why the individuals that have been kept in closed environment for a long time face series of problems in reintegration process to society. Besides this the psycological problems are also inevitable in almost all prisoners as they are kept in closed environment for a long time. Taken all this into consideration, the government should create necessary conditions for reintegration of prisoners after their release. Civil society institutions should support governmental bodies closely in this work.

The legislation of Azerbaijan Republic reflects in itself several basis for release of prisoners from prison. They include:

-        end of punishment term;

-        ending execution of punishment due to cancellation of sentence;

-        conditional early release from prison;

-        substitution of the unserved part of punishment with lighter type of punishment;

-        release from prison through amnesty or pardon;

-        for ilness or any other reasons.

Prisoners face problems in realization of some of the basis for release from prison. We have talked above about the cases when prisoners have to bribe to eliminate bureaucratic challenges when trying to get conditional early release from prison, substitution of the unserved part of punishment with lighter type of punishment, also release due to ilness. Because according to the legislation, in order to be able to use the above mentioned basis for release, prisoners need to get agreement of the management of prison facility. If they don’t do that, the chances of prisoners to be released based on any of these basis reduces immensly. Courts do not give decision about the early release of a prisoner without an agreement of corresponding management of prison facility.

When it comes to early release based on amnesty or pardon act, there exist problems here as well. According to the legislation, decision on amesty act is given by Milli Majlis on different types of crimes. But pardoning is realized by the President of the country based on individual appeal made by either the prisoner himself or his relatives or any other individuals. After the country gained independence, there have been given decision on some amnesty cases and decrees made on pardoning. But different from pardoning, the number of amnesty acts are very little and besides this only some part of prisoners achieved release from prison who committed crimes that doesn not carry much social threat and less serious crimes. The prisoners sentenced for serious or specially serious crimes have not been applied amnesty.

The work of identifying the list of crimes that amnesty would apply and also the list of prisoners that would be pardoned has been intrusted to the Pardon Commission that functions based on corresponding Charter at the President. There are different opinions of the work of this Pardon Commission that is comprised of representatives of power ministries, deputies, NGOs and other popular individuals. According to what the prisoners, their close ones told and what was spread in Mass media entities, the above mentioned entity discriminates among prisoners when preparing the list of those in the pardon list to be submitted to the President and that sometimes they even ask bribes from relatives of prisoners. Besides this, there is also resolute fact and also information spread in Mass media entities that when the prisoners who received amnesty or pardon are released from prison, the management of the same prison facility asks the relatives of prisoners a bribe under “shirinlik”[1].

By release of prisoner from a prison facility, the limitations to his punishment are put an end. But as it was mentioned above after release from prison, prisoners face series of problems. Thus there occurs serious reintegration into society and social adaptation process. The scope of problems can be quite broad and deep. The followings can be considered the main problems they face:

1)     Problems related to living space. The prisoners kept in a close environment for long time, most of the time loose their previous living spaces. When their families leave them or do not have families at all they quite often face living space problem. And sometimes the house or apartment that was the property of prisoner before he was sentenced is either mastered or occupied  by his close relatives. Although the legislation recognizes property rights of prisoners after imprisonment, in practice most of the prisoners have hard time in finding a living space after released from prison.

2)     The prisoners who do not have a living space, face also often other social problems such as getting personal identification card and with registration. These problems happen mostly in the result of their illegal deprivation from their previous living spaces  or in the result of misunderstanding with their families or any other reasons. Although the former prisoners apply to corresponding department of personal identification card and registration, these entities do not respond their appeals positevly bringing different excuses or delay their issues by not giving resolute answers. In the result citizens (former prisoners) are deprived of their rights to acquire personal identification cards and registration without any ground. Whereas, by the law of Azerbaijan Republic “on social adaptation of those released from prison”, as well as the article #5 of the law of Azerbaijan Republic “on living space and location”, “The citizens of Azerbaijan Republic, who have been released from prison and those permanently living in Azerbaijan Republic and those who do not have citizenship are registered at the previous living space within three days after their appeal by corresoponding executive power entities, if they have not lost the right to the property they lived before as identified by the legislation. If family members of the released prisoner live in the living space where he used to live before imprisonment, the consent of family members is not required for the former prisoner to go back and live in that living space. If a former prisoner did not have a living space before imprisonment and didn’t have registration, or lost registration for any reason, he should address the police department where he was registered the last time. The article #5 of the above mentioned law unanimously requires the former prisoner to be registered at the police department where he was registered the last time if there are above mentioned basis for that and provided with personal identification card.

3)     Unemployent and other social problems connected with financial provision are also considered as factors hindering the former prisoners from reintegrating to society. Unemployment and lack of financial means makes the life of former in freedom even more difficult. Former prisoner faces serious obstacles in being reinstated in his former office as well as in finding a new job. Some of these obstacles originate from the attitude of society towards prisoners, which should be considered a very serious problem. Thus people can not perceive former prisoner as full right citizen yet. They are always suspicious about them. They think that if a former prisoner has done theft, robbery, hooliganism and etc. before he would tend to do the same crime again. That’s why some employers deviate from hiring former prisoners or those who hire them try to be cautious about him. The victims of social contradictions existing in the society are usually former women prisoners. These women have two times more difficulty in getting jobs. Some of unemployment problems of former prisoners are connected with illiteracy and lack of skills to use new technology. Thus a former prisoner that was kept in a prison facility for a long time is also deprived from acquiring new technology and work methods. In such case even if a former prisoner finds a job, he can not last long in that job as he can not acquire the skills required for the technology applied in the job.

4)     The social problems former prisoners face after release from prison affects his/her psycology negativly as well. Thus the life full of social problems influences the nerves of former prisoner. He/she can not adapt the new life. If we take into consideration the abnormal attitude towards prisoners originating from mentality, it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine psycological tension the former prisoner has to live through. In the result of seriousness of social problems in freedom that affect the psycology of former prisoners stimulate them to repeat the crime again and join criminal groups. Especially the psycology of former prisoners, who had been arrested at a young age adapts to new life style with more difficulty. That’s why their desire to join criminal groups is stronger and they seem to want to go back to prison.

To solve the social-psycological problems of former prisoners mentioned above is the responsibility of government. Society, civil society institution also should help government in this work. The legislation of Azerbaijan Republic has reflected in itself progressive norms based on international experience to provide reintegration of prisoner released from prison. Thus, these norms include both creating conditions for welfare of prisoners released from prison and getting jobs and providing them with other kinds of social aid. According to the requirement of the Code of Execution of Punishments, close to the time when a prioner will be released, the management of the prison facility informs the executive power entity of the area where the prisoner used to live before imprisonment and also employment entities about his living place, previous work place, specialty  and labor skills. The corresponding authorities are obliged to help former prisoners to solve their problems related with living place and employment and register them as people that have special need for social protection. Besides this, according to legislation, prisoners with I and II degree invalids, also women of 55 years old and men of 60 years old are released and sent back to their homes based on their letters of request, and invalids and elderly are released based on recommendation of prison management, and juveniles who do not have parents are released are sent to boarding schools or given to patronage when necessary. The prisons released from prisons  are provided with free seasonal clothes, shoes, money necessary for going back to their homes, food and one time financial aid.

Reflection of financial, social and other provisions for prisoners just released from prison can be considered a positive case. But some of the provisions mentioned above are not ensured because of bureaucratic obstacles and some, for example, the amount of financial aid is so small that it can cover former prisoners only several days needs. It would be good if prisoners just released from prison be provided with not one time financial aid, but monthly allowance in the amount of average salary paid in the country. Also, there is a need to identify administrative or other punishment methods for executive power offices and other related responsible bodiees.

According to the committment the government has put before the Council of Europe and other international organizations, with the purpose to regulate relations occuring in social adaptation of individuals released from prison comprehensivly, there has been adopted a law “on social adaptation of those released from prison facilities” in 2007. Social adaptation in the law means adaptation of individuals released from prisons to social environment, protection of their rights and freedoms and legal interests and system of legal, economical and organizational and social-psycological measurements to prevent any new crimes that would be committed by these people and the criminal factors that might influence them. The above mentioned law ensures implementation of following measurementsk for social adaptation:

-        to carry out the work related to registration and preparation of individuals just released from prison;

-        to create social adaptation centers;

-        to provide those that do not have permanent living place with accommodation for one year period (this term can be prolonged for one more year);

-        organization of the work of vocational training of individuals released from prison, to take certain measurements to provide them with job, medical and social aid;

-        to create conditions for them to get education;

-        to provide with personal identiy card or any other documents required;

-        to provide individuals released from prison with one time financial aid who need social adaptation;

-        to provide the inviduals released from prison with legal, psycological and information.

Some of these measurements have also been reflected in other legislative acts, including the Code of Execution of Punishments that we mentioned above. But there are still serious problems in realization of some of these measurements although there has passed more than 3 years since adoption of the law (President decree on implementation of the law was signed on July 3, 2007). The presidential decree has committed different entities with certain obligations for the implementation of the law. Besides this to solve the issues coming from the law certain amount of budget has been considered in state budget. According to the presidential decree on implementation of the law, the main control over the issue of social adaptation and the main objectives as identified by the law should be realized by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population and the Ministry of Justice. Other governmental bodies and organizations, including the commissions for the issues and protection of the rights of juveniles, governmental educational and medical facilities, employment entities, as well as other entities and organizations  should also fulfil the requirements of the law on social adaptation of those released from prison. The law also ensures voluntary participation of municipalities, physical persons, legal persons, not dependent on the type of property or organizational-legal form, including non-governmental organizations in implementation of social-adaptation measurements for those released from prison. But after the adoption of the law, except adoption of several related normative legal acts, practically nothing else has been done. The only thing that has been done is establishment of a department for social protection of prisoners at the Ministry of Justice. This department does the final work in identifying the former prisoners that need social adaptation and their situation and in getting other required information. In other word, this department organizes its work still in old fashion and does not have opportunities to fulfil the requirements of the law.

According to the information provided by the officials of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population to mass  media, that is one of the main ministries that is obliged to realize activities in the sphere of social adaptation of those released from prison, currently construction of complex type of big adaptation center meeting modern standards has started. According to what they said, beside bedrooms and rooms for resting, there is also planned to build rooms for psycological and legal consultations, also living rooms and laundre at this complex – center.

It should be noted that “the law on social adaptation of prisoners released from prison facilities” comprehensivly regulates organization, legal and other sides of social protection of former prisoners released from prisons, also meets international standards. But as in realization of other legislative acts, there exist problems in realization of this law as well. This originates from the fact that governmental entities and organizations do not fulfil their responsibilities as identified by the legislation propertly or do not want to fulfil them. In the end, legal nihilism is formed in society and the rights and freedoms of thousands of former prisoners are being violated rudely.

                            Recommendations

 

The above mentioned show that the situation in punishment-execution system is not heartwarming at all. Protection of the rights of prisoners is far from the international standards. The existing conditions in the prison facilities do not let adequate protection of the rights of prisones kept in them. It is important to take urgent measurements to eliminate the problems. These measurements should be taken both in improvement and humanizing of punishment-execution system as well as in practice. From time to time, both local rights protection organizations, and international organizations have submitted recommendations to the government or the officials of the Ministry of Justice both on urgent changes and long term changes that need to be done in punishment-execution system. Although the recommendations and measurements suggested to improve the situation covered short and long term perspectives, and that we can observe some changes in practice, it is not possible to talk about fundamental  reforms in this sphere. The research we have done related to punishment-execution system and information we obtained makes the following changes inevitable:

1)     The construction of pre-trial detention centers and prison faciliites meeting international standards should be speeded up and transfer of prisoners to their living places before arrest should be ensured. In this case the main attention should be paid to pre-detention center #3 and Gobustan closed type of prison for prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment. The work in building and utilization of modern type of prison facility for women and juvenile prisoners also should be speeded up.

2)     As the UN Committe Against Tortures recommends, the pre-trial detention center under the supervision of the Ministry of National Security should either be closed down, or transferred to prison system. Also, there should be adopted a law “on the rights of accused” identifying the status of pre-trial detention places and temporary detention centers of the Police and defending the rights of those kept in these facilities;

3)     Independence of Ombudsman should be increased, also several NGOs specialized in prisoner rights, should be given authority to realize national preventive function either independently or together with Ombudsman;

4)     Non-governmental organizations should be given equal opportunities to be represented in the  Public Committee functionaing at the Ministry of Justice;

5)     Public Committe members should be given the right to be able to visit any prison facility and do monitoring there alone or with other members without notifying the prison management;

6)     The pre-trial detention centes, including the pre-trial detention centers and temporary detention centers of the Police should be accessible both to Public Committe as well as for other NGOs not represented in the Public Committee;

7)     Restrictions put before the NGOs not represented in the Public Committee and mass media entities to enter prison facilities, especially to facilities that are under the supervision of prison service, effective mechanism for correction of prisoners  should be worked out and public control over the work of prison facilities should be strengthened;

8)     Medical provision of prisoners should be improved. Medical-sanitary departments and hospitals of prisons, including treatment center of prison system and working methods should be totally renewed and provided with modern medical equipment and specialized medical staff. Doctor’s interference to ill prisoners shouls be done on time. Provision of patients with medications should be done completly and free of charge. Also, ill prisoners should be given opportunities to use the private and civil medical service, including the service of private clinics;

9)     Every prisoner should be provided with doctor examination right after entering the prison facility and any illness or injuries identified in the prisoner should be officially registered;

10)  Each prison facility should be provided at least with one specialized therapist, eye doctor and dentist, as well as psycologist;

11)  Unemployment problem of prisoner should be urgently solved. For this, the authorities of prison system should get corressponding aggreements with  different entities and government bodies;

12)  Salaries of working prisoners should be increased up to average salary level in the country, also work experience should be documented for provision of their pension in future and in general, labot rights of prisoners should be ensured on the same level as with the other citizens of the country;

13)  Internal inspection mechanism should be strengthened in prison facilities to protect prisoners from any abuse from the side of management and personnel of prison facilities;

14)  Informing the individuals brought to prison facilities about their rights and freedoms and informing their families about their detention should be urgently ensured as stated in the legislation;

15)  Provision of prisoners and those under trial with lawyers of free of charge should not carry only formal character and thus they should be provided with legal aid during interrogation process, court process as well as while serving punishment as required, and there should be created opportunities to meet with a lawyer confidentially.

16)  There should be created conditions for invalid, pregnant and for women who have children at the orphanage at the prison facility to get foodstuffs without any limit;

17)  There should be created necessary conditions for pregnant women to give birth to healthy babies, special norm should be defined for such women and should be provided with high level medical- gynaecological and psycological aid during pregnancy and at the time of delivery;

18)  There should be created necessary conditions for children in prison facilites and a separate orphanages should be established;

19)  Effective mechanism should be established for prisoners to write appeals and complaint letters freely without any abstain about the activities of the officials of prison facilities to corresponding government bodies, public organizations, international organization and commissioner for human rights;

20)  Necessary conditions should be created for prisoners to get quality education, and also necessary measurements should be taken to invite specialized education specialists and education staff to prison facilities;

21)  Juveniles should be ensured to get compulsary secondary education, conditions should be created for them to get higher education or acquire vocational skills, as well as computer and new technology;

22)  The activities of Patronage Council and Parent Committe should be broadened in correction process of juvenile prisoners and the work of these entities should be open to mass media entities;

23)  The number of chances for prisoners to telephone their relatives and the quality should be increased and the bills for telephone calls to regions and other cities of the republic should be done free of charge;

24)  Free time of prisoners in prison facilities should be organized effectively, also prisoners should have an opportunity to watch TV and listen to radios, as well as follow oppositional or independent print media beside governmental newspapers. And they should also have opportunity to access any scientific or fiction literature;

25)  The obstacles created by the officials for prisoners wanting to exercize their rights to early release should be eliminated, it should be reflected in the legislation that reference about the prisoner for his/her release should be given not by the management of the prison facility, but by the Public Committe or Ombudsman;

26)  The work done in establishment of social-adaptation centers for prisoners released from prison should be speeded up and former prisoners who do not have a living space or job should be provided with temporary living space and a monthly allowance until he finds a job;

27)  The number of amnesty acts should be increased, also the scope of types of crimes amnesty can be applied should be extended;

28)  To organize regular training for the personnel of prison facilities to ensure their humanistic and polite behavior with prisoners;

29)  It should be ensured that there is a woman prison controller or woman police in pre-trial detention centers or temporary detention places for checking women accused;

30)  To organize examination to identify and document the cases of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners and the accused and ensure its independence and documenting the injuries found in the bodies according to Istanbul protocols;

31)  To strengthen internal and external public control mechanism, and punish the guilty ones to prevent torture or any ill-treatment, or punishment degrading dignity;

32)  As it is recommended also by UN Committe Against Tortures, the notion “torture” in the Criminal Code of the country should be adapted to the UN Convention Against Tortures;

33)  It is important to help the individuals who have faced torture in getting compensation. Payment of compensation to individuals, as identified in Criminal Procedure Code and in the corresponding Law who got harm should be realized in practice (until today, no one could benefit from this right).


[1] “Shirinlik” is a traditional way of asking for something by a person who gives good news from a person to whom this good news refers to. Originally it used to be only in the form of sweets, candies, etc. But nowadays, due to bribery and corruption, it has turned to be a term for bribery and is asked in money form.

© 2011 Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Sosial Union · Subscribe:PostsComments · Designed by Theme Junkie · Powered by WordPress