Länderbericht Aserbeidschan 2013Seminar on cybercrime in Baku in cooperation with the Azerbaijan Law Reform Centre

General – Conceptual orientation

Legal policy starting point

Azerbaijan’s domestic political situation has not changed in comparison to the previous year. The most important political event was the presidential election which took place in October 2013. As anticipated, Ilham Aliyev was re-elected as President for a third term. Foreign institutions have disagreed in their assessments of the elections. The Council of Europe for instance judged them to have been free, fair and transparent. The OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), by contrast, was critical, stating that the election had been impaired by restrictions on freedom of speech and of assembly. Azerbaijan will be taking over the Presidency of the Council of Europe in May of 2014, and there is much speculation as to how the country will face up to this task. Moreover, cooperation between Azerbaijan and the EU is also intensifying through the work of a Cooperation Council between the European Union and Azerbaijan. In economic terms, Azerbaijan remains the richest country in the Caucasus. The country has a high gross domestic product and positive foreign trade figures because of its enormous oil and gas reserves. It is however clear to the Government that the Azerbaijani economy needs to become more diversified, and it is indeed tackling this task. 

Cooperation to date

Since the Federal Ministry of Justice assigned the implementation of legal reform projects to the IRZ in 2010, the Foundation has been intensively cooperating with governmental and non-governmental institutions in the country. In terms of content, the focus here lies on several core topics in order to guarantee the sustainability of the measures. The IRZ repeatedly finds in the context of the many discussions that the partner institutions have highly-specific ideas with regard to the need for consultation and that they are also very much interested in taking suggestions on board. Work so far has concentrated on consultations on the private notary system, on the European Convention on Human Rights and on the prison system. The close cooperation with the prison department of the Ministry of Justice should be particularly stressed. The Vice Minister of Justice evidently places considerable trust in the two German experts, to whom he regularly grants access to various prisons. Since the prison governors and their staff are extremely cooperative, it has already been possible to implement major EU standards by establishing arrivals departments and workshops for inmates. 

Major partners

  • Azerbaijani Ministry of Justice, in particular the prison department
  • Constitutional Court
  • Azerbaijan Lawyers Confederation (ALC), a non-governmental lobby and further training institution for lawyers
  • Azerbaijan Law Reform Centre (ALRC)
  • Judicial Academy

Strategy and method

The above mentioned topics are also to be continued. The IRZ has been informed that its experts’ level of expertise is appreciated and that the trust necessary for any envisioned reforms has been created. In particular because of the repeatedly resurgent criticism of the human rights situation in Azerbaijan, it is positive that especially also the governmental partners are highly interested in being informed about the European Convention on Human Rights. The IRZ would like to continue to share information in this area, amongst others. 

Foci of activity in 2013

Constitutional law / human rights and their enforceability

  • Seminar on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in the exclave of Nakhchivan
  • “Train-the-trainer” seminar on the ECHR for lecturers at the Judicial Academy in Baku

Civil and commercial law

  • Specialist discussions for Azerbaijani notaries in Berlin with German colleagues on the private notary system
  • Participation by three representatives of the Ministry of Justice and of the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan at the international conference on Hague Conventions in Tbilisi, Georgia, implemented by the IRZ in cooperation with the Hague Conference

Criminal law and the law on the prison system

  • Continuation of the consultation of two prisons (Baku and Sheki) on the modernisation of the prison system with regard to individual prison planning, work activities, etc., which has been taking place since 2012
  • Working visit by an Azerbaijani delegation to Bruchsal Prison on the topics of the phase of arrival, diagnostics, prison planning and work for inmates
  • Seminar on the topic of “Combating cybercrime in Germany” in cooperation with the Azerbaijan Law Reform Centre in Baku

Basic and further training

  • Funding of a German language course for staff of the Azerbaijani Constitutional Court (Baku)
  • Support for a participant to attend the Goethe Institute’s course programme entitled “German for lawyers” in Bonn
  • Support for a participant to attend the IRZ’s “German law summer school” in Brühl
  • Publication of a manual on international commercial law in cooperation with the Azerbaijan Lawyers Confederation (ALC) 
  • Publication of a manual on human rights in cooperation with the Azerbaijan Lawyers Confederation (ALC)

Outlook

The IRZ’s prison system experts will continue to support the pilot prisons with discussions and seminars in 2014. These include a prison in Baku and a newly-built compound in Sheki. As is known, the expansion of rule-of-law structures and human rights standards is highly significant for the IRZ. The experience gained to date 
shows that there is still a need among judges and public prosecutors in this regard. For this reason, seminars will take place again on the European Convention on Human Rights. One of them will presumably be implemented in cooperation with the Azerbaijan Lawyers Confederation in one of the provinces of Azerbaijan. However, the still relatively new private notary system is also planned to receive further support from German colleagues. The exchange on cybercrime is also to be continued in a specialist visit to Germany for Azerbaijani staff from the governmental legal expert centre.