Title Azerbaijan: Torture and ill-treatment: Comments on the forthcoming review by the United Nations Committee against Torture
Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 1 October 1999
Country Azerbaijan
Topics Constitutional law | Criminal justice | Freedom from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment | Freedom of expression | Freedom of information | Human rights monitors | Impunity | Legal representation / Legal aid | Military service / Conscientious objection / Desertion / Draft evasion / Forced conscription | Opposition | Persecution of family members | Pre-trial detention | Prison or detention conditions | Treaties / Agreements / Charters / Protocols / Conventions / Declarations
Citation / Document Symbol EUR 55/002/1999
Cite as Amnesty International, Azerbaijan: Torture and ill-treatment: Comments on the forthcoming review by the United Nations Committee against Torture, 1 October 1999, EUR 55/002/1999, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a9ca4.html [accessed 18 April 2014]
Comments In November 1999 the United Nations (UN) Committee against Torture in Geneva will examine Azerbaijan's Initial Report about the measures the country has taken to implement the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Convention against Torture). On the eve of this review Amnesty International remains concerned that Azerbaijan has failed to implement fully its treaty obligations, as allegations that people are being subjected to torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials are persistent and widespread. These allegations issue from a range of Azerbaijan's places of detention, in both political and criminal cases, but have not only related to detainees - law enforcement officials are also reported to have abused lawyers, journalists, opposition politicians and demonstrators. And in the army, conscripts are said to have been subjected to brutal hazing while officers turn a blind eye. A lack of safeguards and procedures from the beginning of detention, and a failure to abide by regulations that do exist, leave people at risk of violations of their fundamental right not to be subjected to torture or ill-treatment. There is no requirement at present for a detained person to be brought promptly before a judge, nor are there any procedures whereby a person can challenge in court the lawfulness of their detention or their continued detention - violations of Azerbaijan's fair trial obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. State agents have also obstructed access by lawyers, family members, and independent doctors to those held pending trial. There have been persistent allegations that physical and mental abuse has not only flourished in those conditions, but also become a routine tool for obtaining confessions and coercing testimony, or for intimidation and extortion. In many cases the victims of torture and ill-treatment - isolated and feeling vulnerable - do not lodge official complaints at the time, afraid that they will make their situation worse, fearing reprisals, or simply having no faith that officials will launch prompt and impartial investigations. Often they fear even to request a doctor to record or treat injuries, and investigators can refuse requests by detainees and their lawyers to arrange a forensic medical examination. Deprived of this avenue of proving allegations of torture or ill-treatment many victims wait to speak out at a public trial, but then find judges reluctant to order comprehensive inquiries into their allegations, or to exclude as evidence testimony said to have been obtained under duress. Other obstacles arise even if complaints are made at the time of the alleged torture or ill-treatment. The criminal code does not contain a separate offence punishing torture as defined in the Convention against Torture. In some instances prosecutors are said to have been reluctant to open criminal cases against law enforcement officials for torture or ill-treatment, even when they have received a complaint that a person has been tortured or ill-treated by an agent of the state. In other instances it has been alleged that when cases have been opened, the authorities have failed to initiate thorough, prompt and impartial investigations. Cases have often been closed for lack of evidence after what is allegedly a perfunctory investigation, with the result that the allegations are never tested in court. Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the authorities' failure to meet their obligations to initiate impartial and thorough allegations of ill-treatment and torture, and the failure to bring alleged perpetrators to justice in the course of full and fair proceedings, creates both an impression that torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement officials is acceptable conduct, and also allows law enforcement officials to engage in such conduct and violate people's human rights with impunity. This report examines such issues, and concludes with Amnesty International's recommendations to the Azerbaijani authorities.
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