The SPT’s visit, from 16 to 24 April, went ahead six months after the previous visit was suspended amid lack of official co-operation.
“The Azerbaijani Government this time enabled unhindered access to places of deprivation of liberty,” said Aisha Shujune Muhammad, head of the SPT delegation. "However, the State party has yet to guarantee all fundamental legal and procedural safeguards to persons deprived of their liberty, including access to a lawyer, a medical doctor, and to contact his or her family,” she added.
The four-member SPT delegation on Friday presented their confidential preliminary observations to the State authorities on how to strengthen the protection of persons deprived of their liberty against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The UN group of experts visited places of deprivation of liberty throughout the country, including in Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. These included police stations, pre-trial and temporary detention centres, investigative isolation units of the Ministry of National Security, prisons, psychiatric hospitals and social care institutions.
Members of the delegation carried out private and confidential interviews with law enforcement officials, medical staff and persons deprived of their liberty. The SPT delegation also met relevant Azerbaijani authorities, members of its independent monitoring body, known as a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) and representatives of civil society.
Following the visit, the SPT will submit a confidential report to the Government of Azerbaijan, containing its observations and recommendations.
“We hope, and expect, that the Government of Azerbaijan will use our report to enhance prevention of torture and other ill-treatment, as well as to further improve conditions in which people may be deprived of their liberty,” said Ms. Muhammad. As with all other States, the SPT is encouraging Azerbaijan to make this report public.
The SPT delegation was composed of Ms. Aisha Shujune Muhammad (Head of Delegation), Mr. Milos Jankovic, Ms. Margarete Suzuko Osterfeld, and Mr. Victor Zaharia (Focal Point for Reprisals).
The mandate of the SPT is to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of persons deprived of their liberty through visiting, monitoring and advising all States that are parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).
States are obliged to allow the SPT unannounced and unhindered access to all places where people are or may be deprived of their liberty. States parties also have to establish a NPM, which is expected to carry out regular monitoring visits of places of deprivation of liberty in all parts of the country.