APT very concerned about Azerbaijan’s obstruction of SPT visit

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) has decided to suspend its visit to Azerbaijan after being denied access to places where people are detained. The APT is deeply concerned about the obstructions to the SPT’s work and we call on the Azeri authorities to comply with its obligations under the OPCAT and cooperate fully with the Subcommittee.

The SPT delegation members halted their work on 14 September, concluding that the integrity of the visit, scheduled to run from 8 to 17 September, had been compromised to such an extent that it had to be suspended, as announced yesterday in a press release. This is the first time the SPT had to suspend its visit in a country after being “prevented from visiting several places where people are detained and barred from completing its work at others sites”.

By ratifying the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture (OPCAT), Azerbaijan undertook to receive visits by the Subcommittee and to grant it unrestricted access to all places of detention. The lack of cooperation from the authorities is not only a violation of its human rights obligations, but also an attack on the spirit of prevention that lies at the heart of the OPCAT.
The APT calls on Azerbaijan to fulfil all its obligations under the OPCAT, and to ensure that the fundamental conditions guaranteeing the effectiveness of its National Preventive Mechanism, including its full independence, are met. Today, the oversight carried out by the Ombudspersons’ office is not yet fully in compliance with the requirements of NPMs under the OPCAT.
We recall the regular cooperation of Azerbaijan with the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, a regional body with a similar mandate to the SPT, which last visited in November 2013.
Torture can be prevented only when there is political will to do so, combined with independent monitoring of all places where persons are deprived of their liberty. As one of 73 States parties to the OPCAT, Azerbaijan has to fulfill all its obligations under the treaty, in its spirit and letter.

OHCHR Press Release in English

Azerbaijan in APT's OPCAT Database