Azerbaijan, Baku, 29 April / Trend corr I. Alizade/ Exclusive interview of Rabiyyat Aslanova, chairman of Azerbaijani standing parliamentary commission on human rights, with Trend :
Question: International organizations criticize the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. Do you agree with the reports? How do you analyze the human rights situation in the country?
Answer: When it comes to the protection and securing of human rights, first of all we must refer to the legislation of the country and its legal base. If the protection of rights and freedom of people is the most important principle of the State, then the country operates for the sake of citizens. Each regulation in the Constitution of Azerbaijan, which was passed in 1995, particularly Article 12, indicates that the key purpose of the State is ensuring the rights and freedom of the people. And this in its turn gives the ground to say that the Government considers it a priority to remove problems persisting in the field of human rights and freedom. In previous years, a lot was done in Azerbaijan in this connection. The laws passed and decisions taken enabled complete ensuring of human rights and freedom in Azerbaijan. The main purpose of all laws and decisions taken in the Parliament since passing of the Constitution is to ensure complete exercise of human rights and freedom. The notes to the various laws passed at the Parliament say that the laws are based on the Constitution and National Legislation on Protection of Human Rights and Freedom.
No country in the world has ideal model of ensuring human rights. First of all, that requires a change in stereotypes thinking of people. Along with perception of his rights and freedom, a person should know about the rights of people around him and should observe them. The legal basis of the Azerbaijani legislation enables protection of human rights. At the same time, breach of law is completely prevented and those who break laws are punished. Despite of this, we face restriction of rights and freedom in the society. Frequently the cause for that is searched in the State-Citizen relations. But I think that such restrictions take place not because of the relations between state officials and citizen, but because of the points which occur in the relations amongst citizens.
The attitude of the people to one another should be changed and we should accept and recognize the rights and freedom of one another. It is very pity that sometimes we come across the people who try to restrict rights and freedom of others for the sake of their own interests and profit. Very often we face legal violations amongst the citizens. There are difficulties arising from law level of juridical knowledge and unawareness of the law amongst people.
People must possess the complete knowledge about the law to protect their own rights. From this standpoint, the attitude towards laws which protect Azerbaijani citizens must change. NGOs operate mainly in the capital city. However, the provinces need juridical education far more.
Azerbaijan has achieved huge success in protection of the human rights and freedom. Not only we, but also the experts of international organizations visiting the country say the same. However,Azerbaijani opposition and human rights activists do not want to admit this reality and development. They harm the honor of Azerbaijan; send false information, complaints and appeals to the international organizations.
The rights of refugees and IDPs are mostly violated in Azerbaijan for the time being. In order to improve their living conditions, the State is using all the means and has evenly removed all the tent towns. President Ilham Aliyev very seriously treats the problem of refugees and IDPs, makes all the necessary efforts to help them in forgetting their pain and grief. The people are homesick and wish to return to their homes. International organizations do not consider this a problem that these people reside in their native country but fail to exercise their own fundamental rights. After settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem this issue will also be settled.
Question: The human rights activists and international organizations report on facts of tortures against people at the police station, army and prisons. Does the commission on human rights possess such facts and what sort of work is done to prevent them?
Answer: Azerbaijan has joined the international convention against tortures and fulfills the commitments it has undertaken. If any of such facts of torture are observed and confirmed in Azerbaijan, the people guilty are immediately punished. Facts of tortures at prisons, mentioned by human rights activists and Elchin Behbudov, the chairman of the Anti-Torture Committee, are real. Death of people in prisons, serving their punishment term, is presented as a fact of torture. No one can guarantee an eternal life for a man, who is in a prison. The human life can end even in freedom. If an imprisoned died of heart attack, or any other disease, it does not mean that he was tortured. Sometimes, the human rights activists introduce the human death to the public and international community as a result of torture and inhuman treatment. This position is far from reality and bias.
Question: Is there any necessity for implementing public control over the Azerbaijani army and appointment of military Ombudsman?
Answer: There is no need for public control over the army. Son from every Azerbaijani family serves in the army and this is a public control. As there is no ground for anxiety and concerns, there is no necessity for implementing public control over the army and establishment of a special group in this respect.
Increase of funds assigned out of the public budget for the military sector, special care of soldiers and officers testify that the army has always been under the President and the Government's attention. Over the past few years the situation in the army has changed essentially. The power of the Azerbaijani army has boosted and we ought to be proud of that.
With respect to the issue on military ombudsman, I think there is no need for it, because already an Ombudsman is involved in this issue. The Ombudsman has enough authorities to visit the places, view, contact, control and determine the insufficiencies. When the issue on appointment of Azerbaijani Ombudsman was discussed, there was an issue on presence of Ombudsman on different spheres. However, the respective law was developed perfectly and the Azerbaijani Ombudsman has enlarged authorities as compared to Ombudsman of other countries. So, there is not need for appointing Ombudsman on different spheres.
Question: Over the past few years some reforms have been implanted in the judiciary sphere. Do they yield expected results, enabling to state that the problems existing earlier have been resolved?
Answer: Sometimes we receive many repeated appeals from citizens about some judges. We immediately respond such complains and discuss the issue with the Judiciary Council. Indeed, the current judiciary is perfect enough and they underwent deep testing before their respective election to the post. People represented in the Juridical Council approach these issues objectively. Following the functioning of the Council, some judges were punished and some of them were dismissed. Issue on dismissal of top ranking persons involved in the activities improper to judges and damaging their titles, is on agenda.
The judiciary is elected to restore the justice. The plaintiffs always consider themselves right. From this aspect, the judges are authorized for great and responsible work. At present, there are some problems in the execution of sentences. Sometimes they are delayed, causing fair disagreement among the citizens. If it is removed, the situation will be improved.
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