Azerbaijan, Baku, October 29 / Trend , K.Zarbaliyeva /
Trend interview with Deputy Minister of Justice, Head of Penal Service, Justice Major-General, Nazim Alekperov.
Q: Over recent years, certain work has been done for opening new jobs in the prisons, to provide jobs for the prisoners. In which institutions are the prisoners currently involved in labor activity? In what spheres are production facilities of the Penal Service specialized? What innovations are expected in the future?
A: Ways are reviewed and analyzed to revive the production in the prisons in order to productively use socially useful labor, which is one of the main means of enlightenment, establish new production spheres, create an opportunity to involve prisoners in socially useful work. For this purpose, the 2009 action plan includes consideration of proposals for the completion of the inventory of existing production spheres in prisons, their revival and development of new production fields. In some institutions, an agreement have already reached with a group of businessmen, the production sphere of different directions was organized and manufacturing of new products started.
At present, due to opportunities existing in a number of prisons, was created small manufacturing sectors and this year, 20 percent of the prisoners were involved in jobs. In these institutions, a variety of products are produced, including carpets, textiles, plastic pipes, plastic doors and windows, bricks, facing stones, reinforced concrete beams for grape farming, single and bunk beds for the military, office furniture, upholstered chairs. These production spheres are currently active in prisons number 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 15 and 17.
Compared with previous years, an increase was also recorded in the number of prisoners engaged in domestic and everyday office work in prisons. Certain progress has been achieved in bringing prisoners to socially useful work, the number of prisoners provided with jobs increase, but still there are many problems in this regard to be addressed. On the basis of proposals submitted by the Penal Service to address the problem, measures are planned to be taken within the Programs on assistance to reforms in the sphere of justice, which is envisaged to be financed by the European Union and the State Program for the development of judicial authorities. In this regard, work is carried out in prisons to update the existing manufacturing and inventory in order to explore the possibility of opening new jobs, and appropriate proposals will be submitted by the end of 2009.
Q: In recent years, Penal Service has taken serious measures to prevent transfer of illicit items to prisons. How many similar cases were detected during this year, and what problems exist in this regard?
A: Penal Service of the Ministry of Justice took necessary steps to implement the 25 December 2007 Act on amendments and additions to some legislative acts of Azerbaijan Republic and presidential decree dated 28 December 2007 on the application of the law governing liability for the transfer of prohibited items to detainees, as well as the turnover of these items in these facilities.
After the law came into force, broad enlightenment work was conducted with prisoners detained in penal services and investigation isolators, their families and other citizens visiting them.
The enlightenment work included additions and changes made in the legislation. The meaning of a new legislation was explained.
Moreover, employees working in various prisons and penal services were familiarized with requirements of new legislation.
They got detailed information about punishment for violation of the law.
Despite it, attempts to deliver, keep and use items prohibited by the law are made by individuals, several employees in prisons and prisoners.
About 78 similar cases were registered in 2009, 48 are connected with illicit drugs trafficking, 30 - with other prohibited items, such as mobile phones.
Q: New prisons have been recently built in accordance with the European standards. Some of them have been already put into operation. Do you plan to build new prisons in other territories?
A: New mixed complexes are being built in Azerbaijani regions to detain accused people and prisoners in modern facilities and territories close to their place of living upon the Azerbaijani president's instructions.
These complexes are envisaged to detain prisoners of various categories in one prison to ensure their punishment.
Construction of these prisons is envisaged by the Azerbaijani President's decree "Development of judicial bodies" dated August 17, 2006, as well as "National Plan of Actions for Human Rights Protection in Azerbaijan", approved by the Azerbaijani President's decree dated December 28, 2006.
Construction of mixed prisons for 430 people has been already completed in the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic. The opening ceremony of a new prison meeting modern requirements was held on April 28.
At present, construction of mixed penal complexes continues in Lankaran (for 1,000 prisoners) and Sheki (for 900 prisoners).
Moreover, a part of Baku's investigation isolator (for 2,500 people) was put into operation in Zabrat settlement in June. Construction of the rest corps of his isolator continues.
Construction of a new prison (for 1,500 prisoners) meeting modern requirements was launched in Umbaky settlement.
The construction of a mixed prison (for 1,500 prisoners) was launched near the road Khanlar-Shamkir.
About 20 hectares were allotted in Kurdamir region for construction of a mixed prison (for 1,000 prisoners). About 13 hectares were allotted in Zabrat settlement to transfer the penal services for women and minors to new prisons.
Q: Recent changes in the law contribute to improving the situation of prisoners, including those who were sentenced to life imprisonment. What work is carried out in connection with these changes? Does PS have any proposals related to new developments that contribute to improving the situation of prisoners?
To bring the Act dated June 24, 2008 into conformity with legislative acts regarding the changes made to this law, the PS has developed and submitted to the Justice Ministry the relevant proposals to make additions and changes to "internal administrative rules of jails" and a number of normative acts regulating the activities of prisons.
With the entry into force of new legislation, the PS has presented certain suggestions on improvement of the statistical reports of the PS central administration and mechanism of retention of enforcement measures in the form of granting permission to prisoners who have not attained their majority to watch sports, mass cultural and other activities.
Due to the increase in the number of calls and their duration, technical problems have been resolved in the PS. Persons sentenced to life imprisonment were given the right to make calls twice per month, to a short meeting - six times per year, long-term - twice per year.