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There is an urgent need for drastic reform of the criminal justice system in Azerbaijan to improve protections for detainees-a need that the government has largely ignored. This includes adoption of criminal procedures that afford detainees procedural safeguards in keeping with international law and standards, and a willingness on the part of the government to alter the climate of impunity for abuse in Azerbaijan.

The Azerbaijani government has a history of delay and lukewarm commitment to enacting legal reforms, despite declarations indicating a commitment to such reform. For instance, in correspondence with Human Rights Watch, the government said that it intended to adopt revised criminal procedures, improved legislation on the police, and legislation to redefine the procuracy's power, among other legislation.113 Yet in a recent letter, the government also noted that those who had contacted Human Rights Watch regarding abusive treatment had sufficient domestic remedies available to them within the Azerbaijani legal system, and characterized complaints as "exaggerations." 114

In addition to the urgent need to adopt and implement legal reform, equally vital is a commitment on the part of the government to alter the climate of widespread impunity for torture and physical abuse. The Ministry of Internal Affairs' and General Procurator's Office's failure to prosecute torture as a criminal offense indicates an unwillingness to curb the practice. As such, the Ministry of Internal Affairs' continued jurisdiction over pretrial detention facilities is extremely troubling. The ministry's control of access to detainees in these facilities creates a conflict of interest, and pretrial detention facilities, including temporary holding facilities and remand prisons, should be transferred to the Ministry of Justice, as they have been in many other countries.

The lack of commitment to legal reform to provide such guarantees, combined with the widespread and systemic torture of political and nonpolitical detainees, indicates a profound disrespect for the rule of law and human rights.

113 See Appendix 2.

114 See Appendix 3.

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