A United Nations human rights body has welcomed the decision by the Government of Azerbaijan to allow it “unhindered access” to places of detention across the Central Asian country while also urging authorities to do more to protect the rights of people in custody.
In a press release issued today, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) announced that the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) delegation had succeeded in visiting sites of interest during its most recent visit to Azerbaijan – conducted from 16 April to 24 April – just months after its previous visit was suspended due to a lack of official co-operation.
“The Azerbaijani Government this time enabled unhindered access to places of deprivation of liberty,” confirmed Aisha Shujune Muhammad, head of the SPT delegation.
“However,” she added, “the State party has yet to guarantee all fundamental legal and procedural safeguards to persons deprived of their liberty, including access to a lawyer, a medical doctor, and to contact his or her family.”
According to the OHCHR, the four-member SPT delegation presented their confidential preliminary observations to the State authorities earlier today with suggestions on how to strengthen the protection of persons deprived of their liberty against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
During their trip, the UN experts visited police stations, pre-trial and temporary detention centres, investigative isolation units of the Ministry of National Security, prisons, psychiatric hospitals and social care institutions and also carried out confidential interviews with authorities at each of these locations.
“We hope, and expect, that the Government of Azerbaijan will use our report to enhance prevention of torture and other ill-treatment, as well as to further improve conditions in which people may be deprived of their liberty,” Ms. Muhammad continued.
The SPT Delegation to the Republic of Azerbaijan comprises the following members: Ms. Aisha Shujune Muhammad, Mr. Milos Jankovic, Ms. Margarete Suzuko Osterfeld, Mr. Miguel Sarre-Iguiniz, and Mr. Victor Zaharia (Focal Point for Reprisals).