Länderbericht Aserbaidschan 2014

Specialist discussions of an Azerbaijani delegation on the fight against cybercrime at Cologne Regional Court with Anar Baghirov, Director of the Azerbaijan Law Reform Centre (2nd from right) and Jens Schiminowski, Regional Court judge (3rd from right)

Strategic framework

Legal policy starting point

Because of large numbers of energy sources in the country, Azerbaijan is an extraordinarily prosperous state in economic terms. It borders the Russian Federation in the North and it has a Southern border with Iran – relations with both of these countries are not unproblematic. Azerbaijan has tried so far to retain its independence vis-à-vis the Russian Federation, which is very powerful in the region, but at the same time is interested in good relations in the interest of security, and this is a difficult balancing act in some cases. Proximity to Muslim Iran also causes tensions in this secular country. What is more, there is the much-publicised conflict with Armenia over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Here, particularly the OSCE’s “Minsk group“ is attempting to bring about a peaceful, amicable solution in confidential talks with Armenia and Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has been a member of the “Eastern Partnership” since 2009 – the EU is attempting to promote the political association and the economic integration of the EU’s neighbouring states in this context. 2014 also saw reports of corruption in Azerbaijan and violations of democratic principles. Even though Azerbaijan took over the Presidency of the Council of Europe in May 2014, during its six-month Presidency, continued arrests of critical journalists and other activists were reported and strongly condemned by international organisations. What is more, laws on the registration of non-governmental organisations have made the activities of such organisations more difficult in the past two years.

Overall concept

The IRZ works in Azerbaijan both with governmental and non-governmental institutions, and hence implements the Memorandum of Understanding of 2010 between the Ministries of Justice of Azerbaijan and Germany. The Federal Ministry of Justice assigned the implementation of legal reform projects to the IRZ at that time.

The IRZ’s strategy in Azerbaijan was and remains to focus on a small number of core topics: This is the only way to ensure that projects can be carried out over a period of years and long-term successes can be achieved. In 2014, the IRZ therefore continued the project on the penitentiary system, which has been running since 2012. The extremely cooperative Vice Minister of Justice and his prisons directorate-general once more permitted the German experts to have access to various prisons. They both spoke in person to the Vice Minister of Justice and held intensive discussions with the prison governors and their staff. Important EU standards have already been implemented through the establishment of arrival departments and workshop facilities for inmates.

The IRZ organised a seminar on the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights in Lenkoran Province because there is still considerable demand for information on this topic among both judges and public prosecutors in the entire country. Training events frequently take place in the capital, so that lawyers in the remote regions generally miss out in this regard. Important partners of the IRZ in Azerbaijan are the Ministry of Justice, in particular the prisons directorate-general, the Azerbaijan Lawyers Confederation (ALC) as a non-governmental lobby and further training institution for lawyers, as well as the Azerbaijan Law Reform Centre (ALRC).

Foci of activity in 2014

Constitutional law / human rights and their enforceability

  • ECHR seminar in Lenkoran for judges and public prosecutors from the region

Criminal law and the law on the prison system

  • Continuation of the consulting services on the penitentiary system in
    Baku and Sheki Prisons
  • Specialist discussions in Cologne with an Azerbaijani delegation on the
    fight against cybercrime

Basic and further training

  • Final German course in Baku for staff of the Constitutional Court
  • Attendance by an Azerbaijani law student at the German law summer
    school in Brühl

Outlook

The IRZ will also continue the consultation services in the prisons in Baku and Sheki in order to move on from the progress that has been achieved to date. It will also once more offer a seminar for members of the judiciary on the European Convention on Human Rights. Furthermore, there are plans for the still relatively new private notaries to be supported by German colleagues – a measure which has been in operation with brief interruptions since the beginning of the cooperation with Azerbaijan. It is moreover planned to further intensify cooperation with the Azerbaijan Law Reform Centre (ALRC) – joint events have already taken place in the previous years. Additionally, the IRZ has established new contacts with the State University in Baku with regard to guest lectures. Holding a conference on European law has also been discussed in this context.