Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 28

The Azerbaijani parliament voted overwhelmingly on February 6 and 10 to abolish its death penalty. At President Haidar Aliev’s initiative, the Milli Majlis amended the relevant articles of the criminal code, replacing capital punishment with life or long-term imprisonment. Aliev had proposed the change on January 22 as part of efforts to adapt the country’s legislation to the requirements of the Council of Europe. Azerbaijan has observer status with the CE and seeks full membership. (Turan, Sharg, February 6 and 9)

As of yesterday, there were 128 convicts on death row in Azerbaijani prisons. Those sentences will be commuted. Aliev had introduced a de facto moratorium on the capital punishment after acceding to power in mid-1993. Courts continued handing down death sentences for grave common crimes and for high treason under Article 57 of the criminal code. The death sentences were not, however, carried out. On the other hand, conditions in Azerbaijan’s prisons cause a high death rate among detainees. The requirements of the Council of Europe include prison reform. (See Monitor, January 23)