Death Penalty Not Applied and its Formal Presence in Constitution Creates No Problem - Chairman of Azerbaijani Constitutional Court
Azerbaijan, Baku / Тrend corr K. Zarbaliyeva / In Azerbaijan death penalty is not applied, and its formal presence in the Constitution does not create big problems from the standpoint of international law, the chairman of the Azerbaijani Constitutional Court Farhad Abdullayev said to Trend on 8 November. He was commenting on the differences between Article 27 in the Constitution (right for life) and the Law on Abolishment of Death Penalty passed on 10 February 1998.
The second item in Article 27 says that right for life shall be inviolable, except of war or death penalty. The third item says that death penalty shall be applied only in case of very hard crimes until it is complete abolished. "That means that death penalty was an exceptional punishment measure when the Constitution was being adopted, and it was expected to be abolished in future. In 1998 death penalty was completely abolished and removed from the Criminal Code," he said.
According to attorney Fuad Agayev, there are no differences on that issue between Azerbaijani and international legislation. Article 2 of the European Convention on Protection of Human Rights and Main Freedoms (right for life) envisages life imprisonment. "The first item of the article says that no one shall be sentenced to life imprisonment, except of those who committed crimes deserving death penalty."
Given abolishment of execution in Azerbaijan, Agayev believes editorial amendments may be done in the Constitution.
Death penalty was abolished in 47 countries. After its abolishment in Azerbaijan those sentenced to execution were sentenced to life imprisonment (128 people). Eighty-four prisoners are detained in Gobustan prison. They believe that life imprisonment should have been changed to fifteen years after the abolishment of the death penalty.
The European Court on Human Rights' regulation on Alikram Humbatov's lawsuit considers the change of the death penalty to a life-term imprisonment as corresponding to the European Convention. Life imprisonment is a lighter sentence than the death penalty and cannot be considered a crime.