AZERBAIJAN - Abolitionist
State of civil and political rights: Not free
Constitution: approved on 12 November 1995, modified by referendum 24 August 2002.
Legal System: based on civil law system
Legislative System: unicameral National Assembly (Milli Mejlis)
Judicial System: Supreme Court
Religion: Muslim majority
International Treaties on the Death Penalty and Human Rights:
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- 1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
- Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (aiming to the abolition of the death penalty)
- Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
- 6th Protocol to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (concerning the abolition of the death penalty)
- European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Parliament voted for abolition on February 10, 1998 following an initiative by President Ilham Aliyev in January 1998. Following the abolition of the death penalty, 128 death row inmates had their sentences commuted. Azerbaijan had observed a moratorium on executions since 1993, motivated by the desire to join the Council of Europe.
The last execution took place in 1992.
In the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, the death penalty is a legal punishment for crimes committed in peacetime and in wartime. The de facto Criminal Code of Nagorno-Karabakh is the Criminal Code of the Republic of Armenia 1961. It provides for the death penalty as an exceptional punishment, until its full abolition, for 23 crimes. However Nagorno-Karabakh has observed a de facto moratorium on executions since 1997.
During 2004, the state of civil and political rights in the country went from ‘partly free’ to ‘not free’ due to irregularities in the October Presidential elections and the repression endured by the opposition.
On March 2, 2005, an opposition journalist was assassinated in Azerbaijan. The victim was Helmar Huseinov, chief editor of the weekly Monitor, a big critic of the government and in particular of President Ilham Aliyev. He was shot in front of his residence in Baku. "Huseinov was a victim of his civic duties. This is terrorism against the press," declared Arzul Abdulaiva, Azerbaijan's representative to the Helsinki Committee for the defence of human rights.
On December 19, 2016, as in previous years, Azerbaijan voted in favour of the Resolution on a Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty at the UN General Assembly.