Ali Huseynli: Presidential order on improvement of penitentiary service â€“ new stage of legal reforms in Azerbaijan - INTERVIEW
- 17 February 2017
APA Agency has had an interview with Ali Huseynli, Chairman of the Azerbaijani Parliament’s Committee on Law Policy and State Building
- How do you asses the recently signed presidential order on the improvement of penitentiary service and humanization of penalty policy?
- It is a qualitatively new stage of legal reforms carried out in Azerbaijan. In addition, this order arose from the requirements of the modern era. The execution of this order will give an impetus for the improvement of the country’s judicial system. As indicated in the order, the modernization of public administration and measures taken in the field of judicial-legal reforms necessitate the modernization and organization of effective administration of penitentiary service and of activities related to the execution of penalties, in general.
- The order also envisages decriminalization of crimes in the economic field.
- Azerbaijan’s Criminal Code contains a separate chapter on crimes in the economic field that covers crimes against property, fraud, misappropriation and embezzlement, false entrepreneurship, deliberate bankruptcy, abuse of trust, etc. In the Soviet period, there were some economic crimes that have become free-trade activity during the period of independence. Now our economy is developing in such a way that they should be regulated mainly by civil contracts instead of criminal prosecution. There are some cases that are the subject of civil court, they are not the subject of criminal prosecution. For example, Article 10.3 of the valid law specifies: “the creation of grounds for non-custodial measures of restraint and sentenced alternative to imprisonment in cases when social danger of the act committed relates to pecuniary damage which has been fully compensated. Here the question is that the damage caused by the incident is material, not physical or spiritual. If a person causing the damage reimburses it, it makes no sense to arrest him/her.
- The order also reflects the establishment of a probation service (a service which implements penalties not related to imprisonment).
- There are different practices in this area. In some countries it covers non-custodial punishment, and in some countries, it controls the rehabilitation of the previously convicted persons. This is extremely important. The establishment of our probation service with ample opportunities will produce a positive effect. This will probably be reflected in the regulations arising from the order. The integration of the previously convicted persons into society and their social security are very important issues. Of course, various agencies were involved in it indirectly. However, it was not their direct responsibility. So, what happened? Released persons lose the habit of working, the relationship with their relatives (even sometimes their relatives do not accept them), etc. What happens as a result? They again resort to criminal acts. You know, the criminal policy is a part, not full part of social justice. Well, a person who committed a crime should be punished. However, this is a part of the case. The next part is his rehabilitation, working with him to prevent them being a repeat offender. The media should cover these issues. The project “Resonance", launched jointly by the Ministry of Justice and the Azerbaijani Confederation of Lawyers (ACL), is a good example. This approach, arising out of this order, will be able to save society from crime. You must agree with the fact that unfortunately the dynamics of household crime has become a disturbing factor.
- The current legislation also has provisions for early release of prisoners, a change of regime, the non-selection of pretrial detention. Does it not mean that the judicial system has violated the law so far?
- Of course, the increase in cases of a preventive measure in the form of arrest has both objective and subjective sides. However, we have to agree that in recent years the use of information technologies in our country already allows minimizing the preventive measure in the form of arrest, which is sometimes chosen due to the fact that it is difficult to prevent the offender from evading. For example, the court passes sentence unrelated to arrest. So the accused person evades the verdict and leaves the country easily. However, today a unified ICT system is available, which means a person can not escape. It is possible to find the evader. In some cases, there have been abuses in the conditional release of convicts and in regime changes. This is stated in the order. Even the Judicial Council took disciplinary measures against these judges for issuing verdicts on the conditional release of persons charged with grave crimes. From this point of view, perhaps, other judges shunned conditional freedom and favored pretrial detention.
- As the committee chairman, which cases would you suggest be decriminalized?
- For example, the decriminalization of defamation and the issue of the law "On defamation" is still on the agenda. I want to say that in this case the items of the arrest found in Articles 147 and 148 of the Penal Code are deterrent by nature and not applied.
Furthermore, I would suggest cases in the economic sphere be decriminalized. Ecological crimes, damage to property by deception, intentional damage to property, etc. That is, if the damage is material, the culprit pays for the damage. Why would there be a need to deprive him of his liberty?