From the very beginning the Commissioner draws much attention to the protection of rights of the arrested and detained persons and prisoners as one of the various marginalized groups of population.
So, as one of the sensitive categories of population the significance of the protection of such persons must be always taken into consideration. Getting succeed in their re-integration to the society depends not only on the level of ensuring their rights, but also on the compliance of restrictions imposed on them with national by-laws and international legal norms.
The main purpose of the arrest or detention under custody is to ensure the execution of necessary criminal proceedings. Therefore, in order to effectively ensure the rights of the arrested and detained persons, to monitor the treatment and general custody conditions of them, as well as to check the documents confirming the lawfulness of their detention, the Commissioner carries out comprehensive activity in capacity as a national preventive mechanism.
Measures for harmonization of the penitentiary system with international standards, for effective promotion of human rights in investigatory isolators, prison settings, other places of deprivation of liberty, temporary detention places, military guardhouses, for improvement of general detention condition as well as for correction of the detainees and the convicts are ongoing in the activity of the Commissioner.
The control over eradicating the law violations and their causes, strengthening the disciplinary procedures, as well as over the activity of the places of detention and penitentiary institutions has been strengthened. Consequently, under the Constitutional Law on the Ombudsman of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Law on Protection of the Rights and Freedoms of Individuals kept in Places of Detention, the Commissioner and her National Preventive Group (NPG) members are entitled to access, without hindrance and prior notification, to any governmental and municipal body, military units, as well as to the police stations, temporary detention facilities, investigatory isolators, penitentiary institutions, military guardhouses, psychiatric institutions and other places, which detained persons cannot leave on their own will; to meet privately or when deemed necessary with participation of an expert or interpreter and interview in private detained persons, as well as any other persons who may provide relevant information; to get acquainted with and obtain copies of the documents confirming the lawfulness of detention; to draw up acts and document the process and results of the actions undertaken; to be received without delay by administration of places of detention, to make relevant recommendations to the competent authorities and to receive responses to these recommendations within the identified time limits.
Based on the preventive competences given to the Commissioner, the NPG regularly conducts ad-hoc and scheduled visits to places of detention, including temporary detention places, investigatory isolators and military garrison guardhouses, as well as it has been organized legal awareness events for the detained or the arrested or the staff of penitentiary institutions.
The aim of those visits is to monitor the general custody condition and treatment, the situation of ensuring the rights of detainees in compliance with the Criminal-Procedural Code, the Law on Protection of the Rights and Freedoms of Individuals kept in Places of Detention and the prisons’ internal discipline procedures as well as to control the process of relevant documentation, to learn the needs and to conduct investigation on spot.
The activity of the Commissioner in the field of protection of prisoners’ rights aimed at bringing detention condition of and the quality of health care service for inmates in penitentiary institutions into compliance with international standards; ensuring the appeals for improvement of the treatment condition and for transferring the prisoners to prison facilities located near to their own places of residence, monitoring conducted and recommendations given during the construction of new penitentiary facilities throughout the country, and progressing the bilateral co-operation between the Ombudsman Office and with the Ministry of Justice and penitentiary institutions.
The Commissioner initiated for the public participation in the process of correction of prisoners and control over the activity of penitentiary institutions, fulfilling the principles of legality, objectivity, impartiality, transparency principles, measures for encouraging the prisoners to obey the rules and the relevant laws, and strengthening the impact of corrective punishment, along with for infrastructure reforms.
In general, at the country level, 10 amnesty acts, 60 pardoning decrees and orders have been issued as a result of which thousands of inmates have been released from the prison and joined their families and society. Under the Article 1.7 of the Constitutional Law on Ombudsman, the Commissioner may submit motions to the President of the country with regard to granting pardon, citizenship and political asylum.
The 4.1 of the National Action Program (NAP) on Raising Effectiveness of the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms in the Republic of Azerbaijan stipulates the organization of the study of the requirements of the CAT and Optional Protocol, thereto by officials of law enforcement and other relevant agencies, as well as lawyers and representatives of non-governmental organizations with expertise in law.
According to paragraph 4.2 of the NAP, the corresponding state institutions conduct educational and other necessary activities to ensure effective fulfillment of the functions of the national preventive mechanism in accordance with the OPCAT.
The organization of legal awareness work for convicts and persons kept in places where persons cannot leave on their own will, lead to promoting the realization of their rights.
Future challenges include social adaptation of difficult children and children in conflict with the law, social inclusion of public sanctions imposed on and measures applied for lawbreakers, strengthening and increasing the number of social and psychological services, preventive measures for law violations.
All measures undertaken and ratified international treaties, specifically implementation of recommendations made to the Government, pave the way for significant human rights reforms, including speeding up the process of enforcement of the CAT and the Optional Protocol, thereto, at the national level.