The police and other security force personnel beat and torture detainees in pretrial custody to punish, humiliate, and intimidate, to gather information, to force confessions, and to compel corroborating testimony from witnesses. The procurator's office then uses coerced confessions and testimony as evidence to secure convictions at trials whose procedural rules are heavily weighted against defendants, in front of judges who rarely pursue defendants' torture allegations. Equally disturbing, in cases that usually do not go to trial, the police arbitrarily detain and beat individuals in custody to extort bribes from them and family members seeking their release. This abuse-at times shocking in its brutality-came to light, ironically, during the period in which Azerbaijan ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).28
In cases documented by Human Rights Watch involving those accused of treason or other political offenses, systematic abuse took place primarily in the lock-up of the Baku City Police Department, but also occurred in other holding facilities, including the Presidential Special Department. The police also routinely and severely beat those detained in holding cells of local precincts and district police departments on suspicion of offenses ranging from petty property crimes to drug possession or murder.29 In one case we documented, the victim died; in another, the detainee required eight months of hospitalization. Such abuse occurs most commonly immediately after detention, but can continue for months throughout the prolonged period of detention prior to trial.
Detainees are frequently kept without charge in temporary holding facilities well beyond the three to ten days prescribed in Azerbaijani law, through frequent recourse to extensions. During this time (during the inquiry, or doznaniye phase),30 police also frequently pressure detainees either not to seek counsel or to accept a state-appointed government lawyer who will not necessarily work in their interest. Human Rights Watch received numerous reports of cases involving suspects accused of nonpolitical criminal offenses, in which these state-appointed lawyers refuse to actively defend detainees' interests unless they are paid, despite their legal obligation to provide services free of charge.
The legal system envisions that detainees will be formally charged and transferred to a remand prison or "investigative isolator," commonly known by its Russian acronym SIzo31 after the inquiry, during which the police or other investigator has established that a crime has occurred. Throughout the period of pretrial detention while in lock-ups and remand prisons, detainees are intended to be in "isolation" as a "restraining measure." Ministry of Internal Affairs staff told Human Rights Watch that the "restraining measure" of prolonged pretrial detention must be routinely applied to detainees because of the danger of a suspect's flight from Azerbaijan, the danger that the suspect will continue to engage in criminal activity and the risk that the suspect might hide evidence of the crime or otherwise obstruct the investigation. But in practice, the procuracy sanctions, unchallenged, lengthy custody indiscriminately-for even petty crimes and against first-time offenders. Such "isolation" during prolonged pretrial detention - which is a matter of routine in Azerbaijan - greatly contributes to abuse.
In cases when detainees or their families have the means to obtain a private defense lawyer, investigators have refused requests from lawyers for access to their clients in temporary holding facilities and remand prisons. Even if they should obtain such permission from the investigator, the Ministry of Internal Affairs has jurisdiction over-and thus controls physical access to-the majority of pretrial detention facilities in Azerbaijan, and simply can deny access.32 Some lawyers reported that in certain facilities, such as the lock-up in the Ministry of Internal Affairs Unit to Combat Organized Crime, they are almost never allowed access to clients.
Even when lawyers do gain access, they do not have the right under Azerbaijani law to arrange forensic medical examinations for their clients to establish evidence of physical abuse. The police or procuracy investigator handling a case has the authority to approve or reject a detainee's and lawyer's request for forensic medical examinations by doctors from the Ministry of Health forensic medical examiner's office. This examination is necessary to serve later at trial to establish the nature and the cause of injuries, key evidence to substantiate a claim that a detainee's confession was coerced. A report or testimony after an examination by a private doctor or other examiner who is not an employee of the state forensic medical office is not acceptable in court to establish the cause of injuries. As detainees are routinely held for months or years in pretrial detention with no access to a judge to order the examination, physical evidence and marks of abuse and torture frequently fade and heal. Detainees do not have the right to be treated or visited by their own doctors while in pretrial detention as called for under international standards. 33
It is the procuracy's duty to exercise oversight over Ministry of Internal Affairs staff by reviewing and, if deemed necessary, investigating complaints lodged by detainees, lawyers, human rights organizations, and accounts of detaineeabuse that surface in the news media. In practice, the procuracy rarely investigates allegations, and even less frequently prosecutes them.
During the investigation, defendants have no access to a judge to protest mistreatment: their sole recourse lies with the procuracy. The Azerbaijani legal system also does not provide for the right to prompt judicial review of the legality of detention, a clear violation of Azerbaijan's obligations under article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.34 Although a minute number of suspects are freed on their own recognizance, the vast majority are kept in remand prisons.35 This violates Article 9, which proscribes the routine detention in custody of those awaiting trial, and clearly states, "it shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody." The lack of prompt judicial review of detentions facilitates incommunicado detentions, an ideal condition for torture. It also results in severe overcrowding of SIzos, where detainees remain for the duration of the preliminary investigation,36 trial, and appeals in thoroughly wretched conditions.
Most detainees in Baku are sent either to the Bail SIzo or Shuvelan SIzo, where detainees are warehoused for months and sometimes years.37 A visit in November 1997 by a Human Rights Watch investigator to Bail SIzo found that conditions in this facility amounted to cruel and inhuman treatment. Overcrowding in Bail forced detainees to sleep in shifts in cells that lack proper ventilation and light. Detainees in some cases were seen to be extremely thin and malnourished, raising concerns about lack of adequate food and vitamins. Former detainees in other SIzos report that these facilities are equally or more overcrowded.
Baku City Police Department (Gorotdel)
Testimony from detainees in custody during the 1993 to 1997 period has provided evidence that physical abuse of the government's real or imputed political opponents took place frequently at the Baku City Police Department, also known colloquially by the Russian acronym "Gorotdel."38 Under Azerbaijani law, individuals suspected of especially serious criminal acts may be held at the Gorotdel for ten to thirteen days, which may be extended by the procuracy to a maximum of two months, after which detainees must be formerly charged and transferred to a SIzo.39 This notwithstanding, there are numerous reports of detainees being held incommunicado in the Gorotdel for months at a time without access to lawyers or family members.
Many witnesses who had been detained on political charges reported that beatings and torture took place on the fourth floor of the building, in the office of the chief of the detective unit,40 whom they identified as Mammed Mikayilov, or in the offices of his deputies. Several former detainees told Human Rights Watch that Mikayilov personally took part in questioning them and was present during beatings. Among them was Elchin Behbudov, a former Ministry of Internal Affairs employee who worked at the Presidential Special Department at the time of his detention. Behbudov told Human Rights Watch that he was arrested on October 21, 1995, without a warrant, and wastaken first to a holding cell in the basement of the Presidential Special Department, where he remained for two days without being allowed access to a lawyer or to notify his family.41
At 11:00 p.m. on the second day of his detention, Behbudov was transferred to the Gorotdel:
They put handcuffs on me, and I thought to myself, "But I'm not a criminal, why am I being taken to the Gorotdel?" I was brought there at 11:00 p.m. and immediately brought to the fourth floor of the criminal investigation department to the office of the deputy chief of the detective unit, Hussein Alakharov, and the chief of the detective unit himself, Mammed Mikayilov, was sitting there. ... There were seven of them. ...
As soon as I refused to [write a statement], we talked about this for two or three minutes, they started beating. ... They said I had to write it. ... I asked them, when they were [taking off my handcuffs] and putting them on behind my back, "what are you doing?" They said, "You'll see." They started punching me. There were seven men there and two punched me and I fell.
Behbudov described how police placed him on the floor on his back, put his feet on a wooden restrainer, and held his legs up as they beat him.
I was handcuffed with my hands behind my back. They have this [thing] called a stanok. It's wooden with a cord. ... They put it on your legs, so I couldn't move them at all....They raised my legs and started to beat me with night sticks on my legs, arms, neck and liver. They didn't beat me on the head ... I was shouting, "Don't kill me." ... They were telling me, "You will die, but you will write what we tell you." They were using curse words, and later they put a gas mask on my head and started to suffocate me. I lost consciousness twice. ... I was dark, beaten with bruises all over. I couldn't walk afterwards, they beat me [so much].
A procuracy investigator, Elyuvsar Aliyev, came to see Behbudov several days after his detention, but refused to take action about the abuse: "I showed him my body, you know, like, `look what they did to me,' and said that the statement I gave was false, that it was dictated to me. He said, `I can't open a criminal case against seven policemen on account of you.'"
Behbudov had been detained on suspicion of concealing information regarding the September 1994 murder of a fellow employee of the Presidential Special Department. He said he was kept in the Gorotdel for more than two months, and on January 3, 1996, was formally charged under article 186 of the Azerbaijani criminal code, with "concealing evidence of a crime." His lawyer obtained permission to see him on January 3, but investigators did not allow him to visit until January 6. At his subsequent trial, Behbudov was given a two-year suspended sentence.
In June 1996, a Human Rights Watch investigator viewed photographs that clearly showed the bruises that Ali Aliyev sustained during a beating in the Gorotdel in 1995.42 His spouse, Fatima,43 told Human Rights Watch that herhusband was arrested on March 21, 1995, on suspicion of unlawful weapons possession (article 220 of the Azerbaijani criminal code), and taken to the investigative isolator on the sixth floor of the Ministry of National Security's headquarters in Baku. He was held in the ministry's facility for two months, and later transferred to the Gorotdel, where he spent four months. After her repeated complaints to procurators, he was transferred to a SIzo.44
However, she learned months later, the day after leaving the country on a business trip, that her husband had been taken once again to the Gorotdel and severely beaten by investigators who accused him of involvement in the March 1995 OPON revolt:
The day after my departure he was taken there. After I came back I learned from the lawyer and from Gorotdel staff that my husband was in critical condition, that he had been beaten by thirteen people in the Gorotdel and that his legs and arms were in handcuffs. ... I had a meeting with my husband and he described this to me himself.
She said that her husband received a concussion from the beatings and that she obtained pictures of him that were taken after he regained consciousness. Pictures shown to a Human Rights Watch investigator showed a large bruise under one eye, multiple bruises on the arms and legs, swelling on one arm, and traces of what appeared to be burns on the soles of the feet.
My husband told me if somebody were to come down [again] to the basement where he was being detained [to take him upstairs to be tortured], he would have simply hung himself. He had a jogging suit down there, with a cord at the ankle, and that he would get it and hang himself, because he couldn't take it anymore. They are kept in the basement and then they are taken upstairs to be interrogated, supposedly.... He described one day that he was taken to some floor into some room where there were several people and he could even name them. These names he also told to the lawyer in detail. They were Ministry of Internal Affairs staff of the Gorotdel...there were six or seven names.
In the wake of the two OPON revolts in October 1994 and March 1995, more than 700 people were initially arrested for questioning by the authorities, according to estimates made by the Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan (HRCA), an independent Azerbaijani nongovernmental human rights organization. Of those arrested, some were later released, while 373 had, according to HRCA information, been tried and convicted by March 1997. Several defendants who were part of one high-profile trial that began on October 1, 1996, in Baku reported that they had been subject to beatings and torture in the Gorotdel with the intention of coercing them into signing confessions.
One of the defendants was twenty-seven-year-old Abulfat Kerimov, who reported being badly beaten in the Gorotdel in March or April 1996. Osman Kazimov, a lawyer who represented Kerimov, told Human Rights Watch that he saw his client in custody at the Gorotdel in April covered with bruises. According to Kazimov, Kerimov was arrested immediately after the revolt, spent almost eleven months in pretrial detention, was put on trial, released, and then rearrested in March 1996. Kazimov said that after the second arrest he was first able to see his client one month after he was taken into custody, in mid-April 1996, after strong and repeated complaints to the Procuracy General regarding the denial of access.
Kerimov had reportedly been taken immediately to the fourth floor of the Gorotdel after his arrest:
On the day of his arrest, March 16, at night about 3:00 a.m. or 4:00 a.m. he was taken to the fourth floor to the room that belongs to the detective unit [ugolovniy rozysk], this is the special room for punishment. ...When I saw him for the first time he was in very serious condition and couldn't walk. His whole body was covered in bruises and his eyes were swollen.45
Kazimov reported that he was allowed to meet with his client only in the presence of two investigators, and only for twelve to fifteen minutes. Kazimov told Human Rights Watch that upon seeing his client, he requested that Kerimov's clothes be removed during the meeting so he could see the extent of the bruising and other marks on Kerimov's body. One of the Gorotdel investigators called the guard on duty to try to prevent Kerimov from showing the lawyer the marks on his body. Only after Kazimov's strong protests was he allowed to view his client's body. "Both his arms, both his legs, almost his whole body was covered in bruises and swelling. He couldn't pick anything up with his hands and stand on his feet," he told Human Rights Watch.46
Kazimov noted that his client told him in the presence of Gorotdel investigators that he had lost consciousness briefly during a beating and that Gorotdel staff thought he would die and later discussed throwing him out the fourth floor window in order to claim that he had jumped to his death.
Kazimov's repeated requests to the Procuracy General to allow a forensic medical examination of his client were turned down.
Kazimov noted that an unrelated case he handled in 1996, in which a detainee had sent a letter to his parents complaining of abuse, made him curious about the detainee's claims that he was tortured with an electrical apparatus in the Gorotdel. He said acquaintances among the Gorotdel staff showed him torture implements in a room on the fourth floor of the Gorotdel in late April or early May 1996:
There is a device known as the falatka...this is a device in which a person is hung with his legs up. When a person is lying on the floor his legs are tied up, one person sits on his chest and they beat him with night sticks. Also there is a device with two parallel boards between which they place a person and they start to squeeze a person between these two boards. Also there is a special device, when they tie a person's hands and then subject him to electricity. There is special equipment that is electrified, they turn it and increase the voltage.47
Kazimov added, "I saw those things myself...I went there and saw, I have some acquaintances there [the Gorotdel] and they showed me. I studied together with some of those people."
In at least two cases, police arbitrarily detained family members of suspects and subjected them to physical abuse in the Gorotdel.48 Arif Arifov,49 a Sumgait resident and the father of a defendant tried in relation to an alleged coup attempt who requested anonymity, stated that he was arrested in early August 1995 by officials who were looking for his son, who was then under suspicion of assisting participants in a coup attempt. "They came to our house. I said ourson is not at home, and they asked where he was. They started to argue with each other. One said that I didn't need to be taken in, the other said, yes I did."50
The father told Human Rights Watch that he was then taken to Mammed Mikayilov's office at the Gorotdel. When he entered the office, Mikayilov and two deputies, who were sitting at a table, began questioning him regarding the whereabouts of his son. He told Human Rights Watch that after he answered that he did not know where his son was, Mikayilov stood up and dealt him a blow whose force landed him under a table in the office. "Mikayilov himself threw me under the table, he had two deputies there and all of them together started beating me, the three of them started beating me." For the first three days of his detention, he said that he was moved from office to office of various Gorotdel investigators without being given food while the beatings and questioning continued. On the fourth day he was taken downstairs to a holding cell in the basement of the building.
Then after this, they beat me in the basement of the Gorotdel. On the fourth day....They wanted to take me upstairs but I didn't want to, I refused to go upstairs, I said "I'm not able." After this they beat me. They threw a metal thing at me that was on top of the desk and it made a wound on my leg. My leg began to bleed.
Arifov said that the wound was not dressed, and he was returned to his cell and spent a further ten days in the Gorotdel's basement.
Arifov said he briefly shared a cell with another torture victim. He explained that he was kept in a cell with several other prisoners, one of whom was under suspicion of participating in the OPON revolt.
There was an OMON [sic] who was beaten everyday. He was from Rovshan Javadov's [unit], from Kazakh. He was taken upstairs everyday. He was taken from the basement to the fourth floor to Mammed Mikayilov and after that he was brought down again.
He said the OPON member was twenty-five to twenty-six years old. He was taken upstairs in the middle of the night, at approximately 2:00 a.m. or 3:00 a.m., and returned to the cell at about 4:00 a.m. "I saw him lying in a fetal position on the floor holding his head and he said that they had been beating him on the kidneys and on the head," he told Human Rights Watch.
Other Baku Police Stations
Human Rights Watch found evidence of physical abuse and beatings at district police departments, local police precincts, and even neighborhood police posts; in some cases the abuse was so severe as to result in deaths in custody or required detainees to make long stays in the hospital for recuperation. Victims of torture at these police stations were suspects in common crimes, but Human Rights Watch found one case in which police detained and physically abused a political activist at a district station.
Police corruption is frequently associated with many of the reports about abuse in local police precincts and district departments that Human Rights Watch investigators received. In one such case, Baku resident Hussein Zulfuqarov stated that his family lacked the resources to pay a bribe demanded by police officials in sufficient time to secure the release of his son, Samir, before he died in police custody from the severe beatings he sustained.
Zulfuqarov told Human Rights Watch that on July 27, 1997, four employees of the Yasamal district police department detained Samir Zulfuqarov, a thirty-year-old resident of Baku, in the front yard of his home on suspicion of drug trafficking.51 The next day Zulfuqarov went to the Yasamal police department and met with his son.
He was in terrible condition, bloody, his shirt torn, he could barely stand. They beat him on the ribs and broke them, there was a dark mark on his forehead above one of his eyes. I asked my son if they had beaten him, and my son answered that if they had beaten him or not, it was not important, only if they had made a decision to release him.52
According to Zulfuqarov, shortly after this meeting three Yasamal police officers demanded a bribe of U.S.$2,500 in cash for his son's release. Zulfuqarov said that he told the officers that he would not be able to raise the sum, and the officials lowered it to U.S.$1,500. Zulfuqarov returned to his home, and attempted to raise the money by borrowing from relatives and neighbors and selling his wife's jewelry. When the police officers visited his home later that day, Zulfuqarov told them that he had not yet been able to raise the sum, and the police officers allegedly replied that due to his tardiness in paying the bribe, the amount required would be increased to U.S.$5,000 because the procuracy was supposedly now aware of the case.
By July 29, Zulfuqarov stated he had raised U.S.$3,800. He gave this sum to the police officers, who told him that he could pick up his son at the Yasamal district police department. He went to the station at 8:00 p.m., requested to see his son, and waited until 2:00 a.m. the next morning, but was refused.
Zulfuqarov stated that his son's arrest was not recorded in the police record log as required by Azerbaijani law and that the procuracy had not been officially notified. He said, "The next day I went to the Yasamal procurator's office and he [a procuracy investigator] told me that the police hadn't told him that my son had been arrested." Zulfuqarov added that a Yasamal procuracy investigator informed him that officials at the Yasamal district police department were under investigation in another matter and that his son had been transferred to the twenty-eighth police precinct.
Upon Zulfuqarov's arrival at the twentieth-eighth precinct, he was shown his son. "My son couldn't speak, he looked terrible, he had a temperature of 42 degrees [Celsius]." Zulfuqarov stated that emergency medical personnel had been called to examine his son. He returned to the Yasamal procuracy to complain about his son's condition and to request further medical attention for him, but the Yasamal procuracy investigator refused to investigate the matter or ascertain why the police has refused to provide further medical assistance.
On August 1, Zulfuqarov returned to the twenty-eighth police precinct, where he was told by police officials that Samir had been taken to Semashko Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Zulfuqarov was notified later that he could come to the morgue to pick up his son's body.
In the morgue I saw my son's body covered in blood and bruises. There were bruises on his face and chest. His fingers were swollen, there were open wounds on his feet. It looked like he had been run through with something on his feet, there were open wounds with black edges. His testicles had been torn, and [they were] sewn up afterwards with sewing thread. I saw all this in the morgue.
A death certificate shown to Human Rights Watch investigators cited the cause of Samir Zulfuqarov's death as traumatic shock, accompanied by internal bleeding and a broken rib.
Frequently after a suspect is detained, the family is not notified by police,53 leading to a period of unacknowledged detention during which relatives frantically call and search hospitals, local police precincts, and holding facilities. Eldar Agayev, a forty-one-year-old musician, was arrested on September 23, 1993, at his workplace. He was told he waswanted for questioning in relation to a murder. However, police did not notify his family that he had been detained. His wife, Adela Agayeva noted, "The next day someone from his work called me, on the 24th. I started calling everywhere, the morgue, the police, and the hospitals and everywhere I was told there was no such person. At about twelve, [an acquaintance] called to say that Eldar was at the police station and gave me a number to call."54
Agayev's brother called the number and was told that Agayev was being held at the twentieth police precinct in Nasimi district. Agayev's brother asked an acquaintance at the Gorotdel to call the Nasimi police department and find out what he was charged with; but the Nasimi police officials reportedly refused to tell even this individual the charges on which he was being held.
Despite repeated requests, officials denied Agayev's wife permission to see him, but on September 30 or October 1, Nasimi district police reportedly called Mrs. Agayeva asking her to bring him clothing. "On the seventh or eighth day they called and said that I should bring him another pair of pants. They gave me his trousers, and when I unwrapped them I saw they were bloodstained," she told Human Rights Watch.55
After repeated visits and complaints to officials of the Gorotdel, Agayev's wife was allowed to see him on the tenth day of his detention. "They said that they didn't beat him, but he had a terrible, black face, and our relatives saw him when they led him to the hospital to change his bandages. They had to carry him to the hospital."56 She said that Agayev received medical treatment at a hospital near the twentieth police precinct in Nasimi district, and that Agayev's visit to the hospital and the treatment he received were not recorded in order to conceal the fact that he had been beaten so badly that he was in need of medical attention. In October 1995, Agayev underwent minor surgery in a hospital for lesions on the soles of his feet from the severe beating he received, and he apparently remained in the hospital through May 1996. In order to preempt claims that the lesions might be the result of a prior injury, Agayev's lawyer told Human Rights Watch that in August 1996 he obtained a certificate of health from the military hospital where Agayev had previous check-ups, stating that he had never before sought medical attention for the problems with his feet.57
Prior to his first hospitalization, Agayev was coerced into signing an agreement stating that he accepted representation by a state-appointed lawyer suggested by the police investigator. Adele Agayev stated that this lawyer refused to request that a forensic medical examination be made. Agayev subsequently hired a different lawyer, Elton Guliyev. Guliyev filed a request for a forensic medical examination on December 20, 1996, but the investigator, Javid Ali-zade, denied the request because it was "irrelevant to the case."58 Agayev was eventually convicted on murder charges.
In 1996, Khatai district police officials beat a sixteen-year-old boy who later told Human Rights Watch of his severe ill-treatment. Eldar Ibrahimov,59 a Baku resident, said that on September 12, 1996 he was detained near an outdoor market in Baku where he worked. He was accused of stealing some things that had been left with him for delivery to another vendor, "Suleiman."60
The police brought Ibrahimov to a neighborhood police post, took his passport and told him that he would be released after the matter was resolved. He spent the day in custody, but was not released. Ibrahimov told Human Rights Watch the police said:
"When Suleiman brings the things, we'll let you out." He started to beat me: "You didn't give those things back to [Suleiman]!" They wanted me to confess to other thefts. Three guys beat me, I don't know who they were. They were all in uniforms. Maybe one of them was the inspector's assistant. ...
[The inspector's office is just] a small room. [They beat me] with night sticks. When I was sitting down they said, "Write that you didn't give the things and that you stole other stuff." I said no. They immediately hit me and I fell. There were three of them: one over my head, the other two were sitting. ...
They beat me like beasts. You know how they do it. At first they hit me so hard that I fell. And three of them started kicking me and hitting me with night sticks. They said "Don't scream, people will hear, shut up." Every one of them had their turn [beating me]. ...
Don't ask me where they hit me. I'm ashamed to say where they beat me. It lasted about an hour. It was during the day. ... [It ended when] they gave me a paper to sign.
Ibrahimov was later transferred to the Khatai district police department, again accused of stealing the articles, and again beaten. He was brought to the deputy chief's office:
His office is on the first floor. . . When I came into his office there were three or four people in the room, then a few more came in. One of them was a senior lieutenant. The inspector [who had detained Ibrahimov] explained everything to him, and then the deputy chief said, "Why do you say that you gave the things back to Suleiman?" I said, "Yes, I gave the things back." The deputy chief said, "Beat that asshole." ...
Then they took me to the dezhurka,61 it has a little cell. They beat me, then tossed me in there. Every one of them wanted to hit me. When I wanted to go to the toilet they would hit me.
I still have chest pains and pains in the ribs and stomach and kidneys. I had bruises on my shoulder, legs. ... I couldn't see what was on my back. [I had blood] from my nose and mouth. [There was blood] on my shirt.
I had a bad tooth. When they beat me, they hit it and it broke off. [It was on the upper right hand side.]62
Ibrahimov said that he was forced to sign a confession, but the beatings continued for approximately seven days because the police wanted him to sign an additional confession stating that he had stolen other things. "After that they beat me, but not like the first day," he told Human Rights Watch.
On September 19, 1996, he was taken in an unmarked car to Bail SIzo. Upon his arrival he was taken to an examination room for incoming detainees. "They saw my bruises, and said `When they look like that we don't take them.'" Ibrahimov believed that police had slipped a bribe in the documents: "The policeman said, `open the case folder.' The [prison official] looked in the folder and after that they took me [to be processed]."
Sixteen-year-old Ibrahimov was sentenced to six years of imprisonment in a trial that began on January 30, 1997. According to Mrs. Ibrahimov, her son's attorney, who had been appointed by the procurator's office, did not raise at trial the fact that Ibrahimov had been beaten. She also reported to Human Rights Watch that this state-appointed attorney, whose services should have been free, had told her, "bring one thousand dollars and we will help your son."63 She did not have the money to pay the lawyer or to hire a private lawyer. After the trial, Mrs. Ibrahimov sold the family apartment and other possessions and used the money to "buy a judge." On appeal in October, Ibrahimov received a reduced sentence and was released in October 1997.
Human Rights Watch received information concerning one case in which a detainee was subject to abuse in both a local precinct and in a district police department related to her political activities. In this case, Taira, a forty-seven-year-old woman, was detained in Baku in August 1993 for possession of political leaflets.64
In August  when the president wanted the republic of Azerbaijan to join the CIS, I was against joining it. We posted leaflets to protest this...I had some leaflets as well. One day on my way home, I picked up a leaflet and was reading it. I wanted to take the leaflet home with me, and when I got near my house they detained me. There were three of us and each of us was on our way home, but we were arrested. They accused us of being provocateurs, and took us to the Sabayil district, to the ninth police precinct.65
The took me to the Sabayil district police station. After about fifteen minutes, the minister of internal affairs came in.66 He asked [about the leaflets]. I said that I agreed with everything that was written on the paper. If there will be any demonstrating or picketing I will join it.
He said, "You are a provocateur and I don't want any provocations." And he said, "There are a lot of people like you in Azerbaijan and we will catch them all. ... And then they started beating me....
Taira recalled that on the first day of detention she was not beaten as badly as one of the women with whom she was detained.
They held her by the head and they slammed her leg into the wall and she was bleeding, I saw this and the minister was there. And he said, "Beat them they are provocateurs." I don't understand, if we are provocateurs, why didn't they charge us with that legally? Why did they beat us, women, so inhumanly?
They were beating us ... in front of the minister. They started with the woman next to me. I couldn't stop myself from shouting at the minister, "You are a minister. What did she do to you? She just picked up a leaflet from the street on her way home." Then he pointed at me and said, "Beat that ... bitch, she is the chief provocateur."
Taira told Human Rights Watch that the policemen who carried out the beating were not staff of the Sabayil district, but of the Narimanov district police department, where the minister had formerly been police chief. On the day of her arrest, after several hours at the Sabayil district police precinct, she was then taken to Narimanov district police department and interrogated and sexually abused by a woman investigator whom she identified:
She came after eight in the evening. She was drunk or maybe she had smoked marijuana, because I had never seen her like this before. From her eyes, she looked like she was drunk.
We were alone and she called the policemen. She said to one of the policemen, "Son of a bitch, call our men. Do you know what I'm going to do to her?" Then she told me to take off my clothes. I wanted to protect myself, it was a very small room, there were tables, there was a samovar, and I wanted to take this samovar and throw it on myself, but they were holding me. They took off my clothes. She said, "Hold her." They were holding my legs and she put her hand inside me, and she had such long nails, I was screaming, it was so painful. She shouted at me, "I told you that you would forget that you were a woman, that you had a child and a husband. You won't be a woman any longer."
Taira said that for months subsequent to the attack she suffered from gynecological problems that were treated by a doctor who was a friend of hers. After her release in 1993, her sister went to the Narimanov and Nasimi district police stations to request a certificate allowing Taira to go to the state medical examiners office to obtain a forensic medical examination.
Of course, immediately after I was released my sister went to the police of the Narimanov district and said, "Give me the referral for [a forensic medical exam]." They laughed at her. Then we went to the Nasimi district, I lived in Nasimi district , they told me to go and ask at the police station where [I was] beaten.
Taira pursued the matter no further and claimed that, as of November 1997, the female police investigator who abused her continued to work for the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Violence in pretrial facilities in regions outside of Baku is especially troubling given the highly centralized nature of Ministry of Internal Affairs oversight functions. In most cases, family members and others must travel great distances to Baku, at significant personal expense, to complain about lack of access to detainees and other violations. The lack of news media in areas outside of Baku that could draw attention to complaints about treatment and conditions in the facilities, and of nongovernmental organizations able to assist family members, further contributes to detainees' isolation.
Lenkoran, a southern Azerbaijani district near the border with Iran and its surrounding region is home to approximately 300,000 Talish, an ethnic minority who speak a language related to Farsi. In June 1993, Alikram Gumbatov, a local militia leader and head of the Equality of Peoples Party, led a revolt and proclaimed himself a leader of the "Talish Mugan Autonomous Republic." He was detained in December 1993 on charges including treason and later in September 1994 escaped from the Ministry of National Security's holding facility in Baku, along with three other prisoners. More than forty of Gumbatov's relatives and associates were arrested in the wake of the uprising, according to a statement by General Procurator Eldar Gassanov on November 9, 1995.67
In August 1995 Gumbatov was rearrested after a campaign of harassment against his wife and other relatives. When his wife, Sudaba Rasulova, went into hiding after his arrest, authorities' attempts to learn her whereabouts went beyond the boundaries of a legitimate search.68 In one incident in September 1995, police burned the arm of the couple's son, Ramal, who was fourteen years old at the time, in order to coerce him into telling police where his mother was hiding. His sister recounted that a group of heavily armed men from the Lenkoran criminal investigation department entered and searched their home. She knew one of the policemen previously by his first name, Rafik:
Then Rafik, who works for criminal investigation, beat my brother and asked him where my mother was. My brother didn't say anything, he just said that he didn't know...and then they burned him with cigarettes. Mygrandmother fainted, and then they took her away in a car. Two days she was kept, but you know, she didn't know anything, and they let her go. She was in a bad way for two months after that.69
Gumbatov's wife and children were granted political asylum in the Netherlands after the intervention of several human rights organizations.
In December 1993, police in Lenkoran brutally beat Elgar Elgarov,70 who was sixteen years old at the time, to coerce him into confessing to robbery. Elgarov told Human Rights Watch that Lenkoran police officers detained him at school; he said the police had no warrant for his arrest and told him at the time of detention that they wanted him to answer some questions about a robbery and that he would be returned to his school shortly after. He was taken to the Lenkoran City Police Department, where he was kept for two weeks locked in the duty officer's room and repeatedly taken to one of the police official's offices for questioning and beatings.
They beat me starting on the first day. They beat me for fourteen days until I was put in the temporary holding cells. [The beatings took place] on the second floor, in a room. I don't know whose office it was. [The beatings would take place] during interrogations, whenever they felt like it. Even if someone just walked by [and wanted to] to get in on it.
Elgarov stated that the first time he was questioned about the robbery the Lenkoran police chief hit him so hard that he fell off his chair and the chair broke.
First the deputy, then the chief of the police station came into the room. The two women [the complainants] were also there. One of [the officers] asked if I knew these women. I said, "Yes, I know them." Then they asked me if I did it, if I stole their property. I said, "I didn't do it." They took me back to the duty officer's room. In the evening they took me back to see the police chief. They took the women to another room to give testimony. The chief said to me, "the women testified that you stole their things." I said I had nothing to do with it.
Elgarov reported that the beatings twice included the use of a thick wire cable approximately two feet long and 1.25 inches wide. He noted that the marks made by cables remained on his body for a year after his detention.
On the fifth or sixth day, he [the police investigator] put a piece of paper in front of me and made me write that I had stolen. Again, I said I hadn't taken anything. He took a pistol and put it to my head....I was afraid so I signed. He said, "If you don't confess I'll kill you and your blood will be wasted." My neighbor [the complainant] was also in the room and said, "Don't do it!" He didn't answer my neighbor; he put his pistol back.
Elgarov was allowed to meet with a lawyer on the fifth day of his detention, but was not allowed to see a parent for approximately twenty days. Elgarov told Human Rights Watch that after his trial his parents lodged a complaint with officials in Baku, and that Ministry of Internal Affairs officials were sent to Lenkoran from Baku to investigate. However, Elgarov's parents withdrew the complaint after the Lenkoran deputy police chief visited their home and persuaded his parents to drop it.
In Ganja, Azerbaijan's second largest city, descriptions of police ill-treatment are similarly alarming. Almost all of the approximately thirty local residents who spoke with a Human Rights Watch investigator expressed great fear of the police, and many stated that they were routinely and persistently approached by the police with demands forbribes. "In Ganja there seems to be one policeman for every five residents, they are always collecting money from people," said one.71
Members of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front and Musavat parties also reported police harassment, including arbitrary detentions, in attempts to prevent them from holding meetings. For example, during one incident, Ramiz Ramizolov, a member of the Musavat party, told Human Rights Watch that on May 24, 1997, Ganja police arrived and violently broke up an indoor meeting of approximately three hundred people.72 Police reportedly detained him along with twenty other members of the Azerbaijan Popular Front and Musavat parties, and took them to the Ganja district police station at 11:00 a.m., where they were questioned and threatened, and later released at 7:00 p.m. According to Ramizolov, one activist from a nearby town of Garanboi, Kerim Kerimov, who was detained along with him, was taken into a separate room at about 4:00 p.m. and later described having been beaten. "After he was taken, a policeman said to me, `Poor Kerimov, they have started to beat him.'....when Kerimov was returned, his jacket was ripped, his coat was dirty. He told me that he had been beaten, and I said I was sorry that I invited him to the conference."73
In one case in Ganja, physical abuse continued after the suspect had confessed to the crime he was charged with. Imram Kamal-oglu Verdiyev told Human Rights Watch that his son, twenty-four-year-old Vuqar Verdiyev, was arrested on April 29, 1996, by police in Baku on suspicion of murdering an official at the Ganja Agricultural Institute. Verdiyev told the police his son's whereabouts in Baku after he and his wife were detained and kept in a police temporary holding facility for eight hours and repeatedly threatened. Imram Verdiyev's uncle had also been arbitrarily detained as a hostage and threatened with being charged with weapons possession until Vuquar Verdiyev surrendered himself. Verdiyev told Human Rights Watch that police brought his son from Baku to Ganja. At first, the Ganja procuracy conducted the investigation, but "the relatives [of the deceased] started to complain and the case was forwarded to the Procuracy General in Baku."74
While in Baku his son was first taken to the Gorotdel and later to the Ministry of Internal Affairs' Special Unit to Combat Organized Crime. "In Baku, he was taken to the Gorotdel, and from the Gorotdel, they took him to the Department to Combat Organized Crime, where people are terribly abused. He was tied up to a radiator and they beat him. They poured hot and then cold water on him and again they beat him...They didn't allow me to see my son." Verdiyev said that his son confessed to the murder, but still continued to suffer physical abuse from the police. His son was moved once again, from Shuvelan remand prison back to Ganja.
And from there he was taken to Ganja again, [to the Ganja City Police Department] and since then they have been abusing him, they broke his shoulders and hand, and broke his toenails, they pushed nails under his toe nails. But he confessed to everything, yet still they abuse him....No lawyer was allowed to meet him and no doctor was allowed to see him.
Verdiyev told Human Rights Watch that he believed that the abuse had continued after his son's confession to coerce him into signing testimony that he had an accomplice.
Remand Prisons (SIzos)
This report has sought to document police abuse that had the specific purpose of intimidating detainees into providing testimony. But ill-treatment need not be purposive to be classified as such. Abysmal physical conditionsin custody that may be the result of gross negligence may also constitute ill-treatment as defined in the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.75 The lack of judicial review of detention, together with Ministry of Internal Affairs practice, leave detainees in Azerbaijan vulnerable to appalling conditions in pretrial facilities, or remand prisons, with no opportunity to protest their conditions.
Human Rights Watch sought access to Azerbaijani pretrial facilities because of alarming reports from Azerbaijani human rights organizations regarding squalid conditions, severe overcrowding, rampant tuberculosis, and deaths in custody due to withholding of medical attention, conditions which continue to threaten the health and life of detainees.76 Severe overcrowding is attributable in large part to the fact that bail for those awaiting trial is rarely granted in Azerbaijan, and suspects are infrequently released on their own recognizance. While this section does not seek to represent a comprehensive picture of pretrial facilities in Azerbaijan, no discussion of torture in pretrial custody would be complete without reviewing conditions in these facilities.
In September 1997, the Council of Europe reported that a total of 3,750 inmates were in pretrial detention facilities of all types, mostly under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. These figures also included 119 in Ministry of Defense disciplinary facilities, and forty-nine held in the custody of the Ministry of State Security.77
During Human Rights Watch's mission in December 1997, the Azerbaijani government granted Human Rights Watch access to some post-conviction facilities, including Gobustan closed prison and several corrective labor colonies. It allowed access to only limited areas of one remand prison, Bail, a facility located in Baku where detainees are warehoused for months and sometimes years while they wait for police and prosecutors to complete investigations, and during trial and the completion of appeals procedures.78
The Ministry of Internal Affairs allowed Human Rights Watch access to only eight cells, and, despite a prior verbal agreement, did not allow Human Rights Watch to speak to inmates in private. The overcrowding and poor light and ventilation in the limited area we were permitted to view clearly amounted to conditions of ill-treatment. The Bail SIzo was constructed in 1897 and, according to a previous Human Rights Watch investigation in 1991, officials at thetime reported its capacity as 600 inmates.79 In 1997, officials reported to the Council of Europe that its capacity was 1,200. Officials at Bail initially refused to state the actual number of those detained there during the Human Rights Watch visit, claiming that, "overcrowding was formerly a problem but now it is normal; the last amnesty released a lot of draft evaders."80 Another official later stated that it held 1,424 inmates at the time of the visit.81
Detainees slept in shifts in dark, dank cells. Natural light and ventilation in the cells is provided by a small slit in the wall that is generally six inches in height and two and half feet long. Overcrowding was evident even in the limited area of Bail to which Human Rights Watch had access, and all of the eight cells shown to Human Rights Watch were overcrowded. One cell in Korpus 17, for example, contained eight beds but housed eleven inmates, who reported that they slept in shifts or stayed up all night. In addition, the air was stifling due to inadequate ventilation, and upon opening of cell doors detainees in darkened cells showed a strong reaction to natural daylight.82 Ministry of Internal Affairs staff stated that detainees are allowed one hour of daily exercise in enclosed, windowless courtyards of approximately five meters by eight meters in size. The small courtyards, with walls approximately thirteen feet high, allowed natural daylight through wire-mesh roof covers. These exercise facilities were hardly larger than some of the cells in which detainees were normally held.
Ministry of Internal Affairs authorities showed kitchen and bakery facilities that appeared to be active, but detainees in some cases were extremely thin and appeared malnourished, raising concerns about adequate food and vitamins.83 Ministry of Internal Affairs staff stated that detainees were allowed access to lawyers, but are not allowed to make or receive telephone calls. "A lawyer can come every day whenever he wants, if it's a working day," one official assured Human Rights Watch. However, the numerous complaints received from defense lawyers about restriction of access to clients in the facility does not support this statement.
Senior Ministry of Internal Affairs prison and other officials were uncooperative during the visit and hostile to the presence of a nongovernment monitor in detention facilities, in sharp contrast with the government's frequent public statements regarding their commitment to drastically-needed reform of pretrial facilities. Senior Ministry officials at Bail subjected a local human rights monitor, who was translating for the Human Rights Watch researcher, to questioning and verbal harassment during the visit regarding his activities.
Despite a prior agreement, the Human Rights Watch researcher was refused access to most of the facility, including Korpus No. 5, where death-row prisoners were being held under conditions sharply criticized by Council of Europe lawyers who had visited earlier in the year. The Council of Europe lawyers noted that the capacity of Korpus No. 5 was twenty-six prisoners, but that 110 were held there at the time of their visit. Azerbaijani authorities state that they have made provisions to ease the overcrowding in Korpus No. 5 by moving some of its inmates to a newly constructed facility at Gobustan Prison.
Senior Ministry staff also refused Human Rights Watch access to other pretrial detention facilities, such as the Shuvelan SIzo, despite several requests. A former detainee who had been held in this facility told Human Rights Watch that it was equally or more overcrowded during his detention there in 1996, that access to family members and lawyers is severely restricted, and that drinking and washing water in the facility is sometimes unavailable and that inmates must pay guards bribes for drinking water.84
In addition, we received reports of ill-treatment in the facility. The mother of one detainee who requested that her name not be used, stated that her thirty-one-year-old son was arrested on March 5, 1994, on suspicion of theft. She told Human Rights Watch that he was taken to Khatai police precinct in Baku. A Khatai district procurator asked her for fifteen million Russian rubles in bribes (equivalent at the time to U.S.$2,500) for her son's release. She stated that one month after his arrest he was transferred to Shuvelan SIzo, where he told her, he had been forced to remain in a water receptacle for a lengthy period in order to extract a confession from him. She said he reported other ill-treatment in the facility, and that following his trial she saw burn marks on his arms, but did not specify in which facility he had received the burns.
The Ministry of National Security also categorically refused to allow a visit to its sixth floor holding facility, a measure that is particularly disturbing given the serious recent allegations by detainees' lawyers of physical and psychological abuse in this facility.85
28 Azerbaijan acceded to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) on August 16, 1996. Torture is also banned by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (article 7) and by the Azerbaijani constitution, article 46, "Protection of Honor and Dignity" ("Every person shall have the right to protect his or her honor and dignity. The state shall protect personal dignity. Nothing can justify humiliation of personal dignity. No one may be tortured or tormented, no one shall suffer from treatment or punishment humiliating to human dignity. No person shall be experimented upon medically, scientifically or in any other way without his or her voluntary consent").
29 In Baku and larger cities there are lock-ups in local police precincts (otdeleniye), and in district directorates (rayonnye upravleniye). The main city police department (gorotdel) has a temporary holding facility. There are also small police posts (uporniye punkty) that do not have holding cells.
30 During the inquiry, police attempt to ascertain if a crime has been committed that requires forwarding a case to the procurator's office for further investigation. Once the police determine that a crime has been committed, the preliminary investigative phase officially begins (predvaritelnoye rasledovaniye). During the preliminary investigation period investigators from the police, Ministry of National Security or procurator's office, depending on the type of crime, begin to gather evidence for trial.
31 SIzo is the Russian acronym for sledstvenniy izolyator.
32 Other facilities are under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of National Security and other security forces.
33 Rule 91 of the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners reads: "An untried prisoner shall be allowed to be visited and treated by his own doctor or dentist if there is reasonable ground for his application and he is able to pay any expenses incurred."
34 Article 9 reads: "Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power. . . ."
35 The justice system envisages that a detainee may be freed on the surety of another person or on his own recognizance, but to Human Rights Watch's knowledge, these provisions are almost never used.
36 The preliminary investigation follows the inquiry. It is distinct from the court investigation.
37 Bail is also known as Remand Prison No.1, and Shuvelan as Remand Prison No. 3.
38 Gorodskoye otdeleniye politsii.
39 A suspect may be detained in the Gorotdel's temporary holding facility without charge for up to ten days according to article 83 of the Azerbaijani criminal procedure code. However, the procuracy has the power to extend the period of inquiry or period during which the police determine if a crime has occurred for up two months under article 116. Police use these extensions (granted by the procuracy) of the inquiry period, which are supposedly only for "exceptional cases" as a basis to detain uncharged defendants in these facilities for prolonged periods.
40 In Russian, this is ugolovniy rozysk.
41 Human Rights Watch interview with Elchin Behbudov, Baku, November 11, 1997. Unless otherwise noted, all other information related to this case emanates from this interview. The Presidential Special Department was created and given its status as an investigative organ with powers to detain suspects by an unpublished presidential decree, a procedure that in its lack of transparency is conducive to abusive practices. During a visit to the facility on November 21, 1997, the head of the Presidential Special Department, Major General Elman B. Ganbarov, told Human Rights Watch investigators that the department had been created in 1992, and that a presidential decree adopted in 1995 provided for the department's legal status as an investigative organ to detain members of the security forces under suspicion of crimes. The Presidential Special Department is located in Baku on Azadlik Avenue, two blocks from the U.S. embassy. Its detention facilities, which were shown to Human Rights Watch, are located in the cellar of this building.
42 This is not his real name.
43 This is not her real name. All citations are from an interview with Human Rights Watch that took place in Baku on June 13, 1996.
44 The name of the remand prison has been omitted to protect the identity of the detainee.
45 Human Rights Watch interview with Osman Kazimov, Baku, November 13, 1997.
48 According to article 66 of the Constitution, "Prohibition on Forced Testimony Against Relatives," "No one can be forced to testify against him or herself, spouse, children, parents, brother, sister. A complete list of relatives against whom testifying is not imperative shall be determined by law." Yet, detention of family members in order to pressure suspects who are wanted by the police to surrender themselves is a widespread and alarming phenomenon in Azerbaijan. In January 1998, undisclosed Azerbaijani security forces kidnaped Mahir Ismailov in Ganja, and brought him to Baku. They were attempting to use him to locate and trap his relative Ali Gassanov, who had sought refuge in St. Petersburg, Russia. Russian authorities had turned down Azerbaijan's request to extradite Gassanov. Ismailov and Gassanov now have asylum in the Netherlands.
49 Not his real name.
50 Human Rights Watch interview with Arif Arifov, Baku, November 12, 1997.
51 The elder and younger Zulfuqarov shared the same home.
52 Human Rights Watch interview, Baku, November 17, 1997. Unless otherwise noted, all quotations cited in the case of Samir Zulfuqarov are from this interview.
53 Article 93 of the criminal procedure code grants the arresting authority up to three days to inform the detainee's family as to his or her whereabouts.
54 Human Rights Watch interview with Adele Agayeva, November 12, 1997, Baku.
57 Human Rights Watch interview with Elton Guliyev, Agayev's lawyer, November 20, 1997, Baku.
58 Human Rights Watch interview with Elton Guliyev, November 20, 1997, Baku.
59 Not his real name.
60 Not his real name.
61 Dezhurka is the Russian term for a duty room.
62 Human Rights Watch interview, November 13, 1997 Baku. Unless otherwise noted all information regarding this case is from this interview.
63 Human Rights Watch interview, November 13, 1997, Baku, with Ibrahimov's mother. Her name has been changed to protect her identity.
64 Shortly after President Elchibey's ouster in June 1993, supporters of the Azerbaijani Popular Front (and others opposed to President Aliyev's assumption of power on June 18) held public meetings and street demonstrations to protest the former president's ousting and some of the policies of the new Aliyev government. Ministry of Internal Affairs forces under the control of President Aliyev used mass arrests and beatings to suppress protesters during these demonstrations.
65 Human Rights Watch interview, November 13, 1997, Baku. Her last name has been withheld by Human Rights Watch to protect her identity.
66 At the time, this was Vagif Novrusov.
67 Cited in "Political Arrests and Trials in Azerbaijan: June 1993-November 1995," a report by the Human Rights Center of Azerbaijan, November 14, 1995.
68 This campaign included repeated warrantless searches of their home and relatives' homes by heavily armed officials of the Lenkoran criminal investigation department.
69 Human Rights Watch interview, Moscow, October 1, 1997.
70 Not his real name. Human Rights Watch interview, Lenkoran, November 14, 1997.
71 Human Rights Watch interview, November 24, 1997, Ganja. Name withheld to protect the person's identity.
72 Human Rights Watch interview with Ramiz Ramizolov, November 25, 1997, Ganja.
73 Ramizolov told Human Rights Watch that the Popular Front attempted to hold a second meeting on July 31, 1997. However, the evening before the meeting, Ganja district police again detained him, and the police chief threatened him and accused him of passing out opposition leaflets in Ganja.
74 Human Rights Watch interview with Kamal Verdiyev, Baku, November 19, 1997.
75 For example, in 1994 the U.N. special rapporteur on torture issued a report condemning "torturous" conditions in Russia's pretrial facilities. United Nations, Report of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Nigel S. Rodley, submitted pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 1994/37, Addendum, Visit by the Special Rapporteur to the Russian Federation (New York: United Nations, 1994), E/CN.4/1995/34/Add.1.
76 Several international treaties to which Azerbaijan is a state party recognize basic rights of prisoners. Article 10 of the ICCPR, for example, states: "All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person." Several additional international documents enumerate the human rights of persons deprived of liberty, give guidance as to how governments may comply with their obligations under international law, and provide authoritative interpretations of the norms binding on governments. The most comprehensive such guidelines are the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, approved by the Economic and Social Council in 1957.
77 Rudolf Bernhardt and Marek A. Nowicki, "Penitentiary Institutions," Report on the Conformity of the Legal Order of Azerbaijan with Council of Europe Standards, Strasbourg, September 19, 1997. Fouad Aleskerov, Chief of the State Law Department of the President's Office, cited 2,869 as the combined inmate population of Azerbaijan's three largest remand prisons, Shuvelan, Bail and Ganja. Human Rights Watch interview with Fouad Aleskerov, Baku, December 3, 1997.
78 For example, one former Bail detainee convicted of car theft told Human Rights Watch that he was kept in the facility for eleven months after his conviction. Reports of detainees being held for lengthy periods in remand prisons after conviction are by no means rare in Azerbaijan. The criminal procedure code stipulates that they may be held in the facilities no longer than ten days after being sentenced. (According to article 345, seven days are granted to a prisoner to allow him to review and appeal his verdict and sentence. Under article 341, the verdict and sentence must be presented to him within three days.) However, should a prisoner wish to appeal his conviction or sentence, in practice he remains in pretrial detention. Moreover, prisoners told Human Rights Watch that if police have not completed investigations of other detainees suspected of involvement in the same crime, all detainees are held in pretrial detention until all those accused have been tried.
79 Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, Prison Conditions in the Soviet Union: A Report on Facilities in Russia and Azerbaidzhan (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1991).
80 Human Rights Watch interview with Ministry of Internal Affairs official Javansheer Mamedov, at the Bail SIzo, November 29, 1997.
81 Interview with Fouad Aleskerov, Baku, December 3, 1997.
82 Article 9 (1) of the U.N. Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners recommends that: "Where sleeping accommodation is in individual cells or rooms, each prisoner shall occupy by night a cell or room by himself. If for special reasons, such as temporary overcrowding, it becomes necessary for the central prison administration to make an exception to this rule, it is not desirable to have two prisoners in a cell or room." Rule 10 specifies lighting and ventilation conditions: "All accommodation provided for the use of prisoners and in particular all sleeping accommodation shall meet all requirements of health, due regard being paid to climatic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation."
83 Inmates rely heavily on food parcels from home to provide for their nutritional needs. This places a heavy burden on families, especially indigents, most of whom must travel sometimes great distances to pretrial facilities. This burden is compounded in cases when the breadwinner is in custody, and by the long periods of pretrial custody.
84 The date of the interview and the name of the inmate, who is currently in a post-conviction facility, have been withheld to protect him from retaliation.
85 For instance, the results into the investigation of one such report is discussed in the Azerbaijani government's letter to Human Rights Watch in Annex 3. The government stated in the letter that the allegations of physical and psychological abuse of former prime minister Surat Husseinov in this facility were unfounded.