Azerbaijan: Time to abolish the death penalty
Since gaining independence from the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan has taken several welcome steps towards abolition of the death penalty, including exempting all women, and men over 65, from this punishment, and reducing the number of capital crimes. In addition, official sources report that there have been no executions since 1993, and President Aliyev has regularly exercised his constitutional power to commute death sentences in recent years. However, death sentences continue to be handed down by the courts, and the stay on executions could easily be reversed. Conditions on death row are said to be extremely difficult because of overcrowding. There is also concern that law enforcement officials have used physical or other means of duress in seeking to obtain confessions, including in capital cases. This paper urges the authorities to review the use of the death penalty and recommends abolishing this punishment totally and permanently.