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Azerbaijan is a sole CE member without a probation service
BAKU/06.05.10/TURAN: The conference, "Support of Reforms in Azerbaijan’s
Penitentiary System”, was held today in the Park Inn Hotel. The project was
initiated in September 2008 by the Council of Europe and by Azerbaijan’s Penitentiary Service, with
financial support from the government of Norway.
This is the
second project undertaken by the CE in Azerbaijan concerning penitentiary
system reform (the first was in 2006). Veronica Cotec, special representative
of the CE’s Secretary General, said she welcomed the construction of new
penitential departments, in particular, pre-trial prisons in the village of Kurdakhani.
the construction of new departments is only part of reform. We do not know what
happens in the jails. Therefore, the current project focused on such issues,”
particular, the professionalism of EducationCenter employees of the
penitentiary service was realized for upholding human rights in places of
project concerns the development of medical services for prisoners. Special attention
was paid to the problem of the imprisonment of mentally ill and drug-addicted
people. Recommendations focused on the use of alternative sanctions. Cotec
welcomed Azerbaijan Supreme Court instructions for arrests to be made only in
special cases. Alternatives to incarceration can include home arrest, among
other options. Azerbaijan
is the only country in the CE that lacks a probation service to oversee the
execution of non-imprisonment punishment alternatives.
wants to create such a service, CE is ready to help it,” Cotec said.
Yon Ramberg, Norway’s
ambassador to Azerbaijan,
measures for reforming Azerbaijan’s
penitentiary system have been constructive.
Chairman of the Penitentiary Service Alikhan Huseynov focused on the
application of punishments.
Representative of the CE’s Directorate for Legal Issues, Tanya
Rakushich-Khadjich, said the accused should not be deprived of human rights.
"The state must protect their rights,” she said.
Head of the
organization–control department of the penitentiary service, Musa Gumbatov,
commented on a system of alternative sanctions and probation service.
"Imprisonment does not always rehabilitate people, therefore it is
necessary to apply alternative measures. Also, such measures address economic
issues – such as the lowering of expenses involved in housing prisoners.
is widely used in Europe, where prisoners
fulfill socially useful work for two-to-four hours per day. Alternative sanctions
can be adopted during pre-trial conflict settlement, such as reconciliation,
compensation, etc. Probation services can oversee the execution of
alternatives,” Gumbatov said.
a probation service would require legislation and public support. "Most people
view alternative punishment as liberation from punishment,” he said.
As a result
of the application of a new Criminal Code, amnesty and pardon, the number of
accused has increased considerably. Currently, the number of prisoners does not
Expenses for keeping prisoners are less in Azerbaijan than in Europe,
but exceed the minimum standard of $8 a day.