The Rule of Law and Human Rights Unit of the OSCE Office in Baku supports the government’s ongoing legal and judicial reforms in Azerbaijan by promoting the effective implementation of OSCE commitments and related international standards relevant to the field of the rule of law and human rights.
Monitoring court proceedings and detention facilities
Since 2003, the Unit has been regularly monitoring court proceedings’ compliance with fair-trial standards and sharing and discussing findings and recommendations with justice-sector authorities and other stakeholders to improve effective access to justice. After the new economic-administrative courts became operational 2011, this trial-monitoring programme began including administrative justice as well. The Unit also monitors conditions of detention and respect for detainees’ rights at prisons, pre-trial detention facilities and police stations, sharing and discussing findings and recommendations with security- and justice-sector authorities in charge of detention conditions. Since 2009, when Azerbaijan ratified the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Unit has been helping build the capacity of the Ombudsman’s Office to act as Azerbaijan’s national preventive mechanism.
Strengthening the capacity of justice and law-enforcement actors
The Unit helps build the capacity of legal professionals and law-enforcement officials at the Ministries of Justice and Internal Affairs, the Judicial Legal Council, the Justice Academy, the Office of the Prosecutor and the Bar Association. The professional-development curriculum includes substantive and procedural legal issues and uses a train-the-trainers approach to ensure sustainability and to institutionalize lessons learned across Azerbaijan, including in the Autonomous Republic of Nakhchivan. These activities are based on the government’s compliance with OSCE commitments and related international standards.
Legal resource centres across the country
The Unit supports legal resource centres with legal libraries and databases in four regions outside Baku in the cities of Sumgayit, Ganja, Lankaran and Sheki. The centres provide free legal advice on a wide range of legal matters, including inconsistent adherence to fair-trial standards, property rights, social rights and women's rights. The centres also assist clients with litigation, mostly in civil cases. Moreover, through the legal resource centres and in co-operation with local authorities, the Unit supports training and awareness-raising activities for legal professionals and civil society.
Providing human rights advice
In addition, the Unit provides advice on a wide range of human rights issues and addresses allegations of violations of those rights with the competent authorities on a case-by-case basis directly and through its Baku Support Centre. The Unit also raises public awareness about human rights by producing and disseminating informative booklets about domestic legislation and its mechanisms for achieving effective remedies, promoting access to justice, and respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Support for legal reforms and the implementation of legislation
The Unit provides legal advice to the Parliament on new legislation and amendments to applicable laws and supports the effective implementation of legislation in accordance with OSCE commitments and related international standards. After numerous years of promoting new legislation on the rights of suspects, which the Parliament adopted in 2012, the Unit is now supporting the effective implementation of this legislation.