Legislative Trends and New Developments

last updated 28 June 2005

Contributed in part by: Yuliya Gureyeva, Azerbaijan National VAW Monitor

On 1 September 2000, a new Criminal Code (Russian) came into force, which increased protections for women. Punishment for rape and forcing a person into prostitution now carry more severe prison sentences. In addition, the new legislation attempts to incorporate international counter-trafficking initiatives. The 2003 Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee describes several relevant provisions of the Criminal Code.

In a memorandum submitted to the Council of Europe, the Delegation of Azerbaijan reported that in 2000, the Azerbaijani President signed the Decree "On Implementation of the National Gender Policy in the Republic of Azerbaijan." The Decree seeks to promote equal representation of women in government, provide refugee and internally displaced women with working places and review legislation in regard to gender issues. The Decree focuses on ministry and executive offices throughout the country, with the aim of ensuring equal representation in state administration, equal opportunity for women in economic reform and gender expertise in the national legislature.

On 30 March 2004, Azerbaijan ratified the Convention Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor (ILO C182).

On 18 May 2004, Azerbaijan adopted a new national action plan to combat trafficking as reported by OSCE. The new plan will coordinate efforts with the police through the creation of a special department to address trafficking and the creation of a National Coordinator position to consolidate resources.

The draft of the Law On State Guarantees of Equal Rights for Women and Men (Russian) recently written by the Committee on Women's Issues of the Republic of Azerbaijan includes and enforces guarantees of equal rights and equal opportunities for women and men and outlaws all forms of gender-based discrimination. The Law prescribes the creation of equal opportunities in the administration of state affairs, enjoyment of education, and economic and labor rights. Furthermore, the Law, for the first time in Azerbaijan legislation, tackles such issues as equal enjoyment of consumer rights by women and men and imposes a ban on gender-humiliating and discriminatory advertisings.

However, the Law has many serious shortcomings, which can diminish its importance and restrict all of its provisions to paper. Negative aspects are the following:

  1. The Law does not present any definitions of terms, such as "gender-based discrimination," "equality," "equal opportunities," etc.
  2. The scope of the Law restricts it only to the public sphere and so assumes a division of social space into the public and private spheres, with no right of the State to interfere into the affairs of the latter.
  3. The Law does not provide any penal provisions nor does it refer to already existing normative legal documents (for example, the Penal Code).
  4. The Law does not provide any specifications on the complain mechanisms, As such, it does not specify the requirements for filing complaints of discrimination. It is also not clear whether complaints about gender-based discrimination will be accepted by the Ombudsmen, along with other complaints by citizens on violations of human rights, or whether there will be created a special mechanism focusing on equality issues.

Currently, the Law is undergoing gender expertise in the Council of Europe. It is anticipated that after that, the Law will omit all of the above-mentioned shortcomings and will be presented for the discussion and adoption by the Milli Madjlis (Parliament) in more complete form.

On 28 June 2005, the Parliament of Azerbaijan (Milli Mejlis) adopted the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on Trafficking in Persons. The law is expected to increase the efficiency of activities at combating human trafficking in the country. The Law provides codified definitions of Trafficking in Persons, Human Exploitation, Human Trafficker and Victim of Human Trafficking and extends the sentence of imprisonment of persons charged for trafficking to 15 years. Also, the law importantly contains assistance and protection measures for victims of trafficking and instructs on special rehabilitation centers to be set up in Azerbaijan for people affected by human trafficking.

A law entitled "Regarding the Prevention of Domestic Violence" has been drafted and submitted to the parliament for adoption, according to the Azerbaijanian delegation to the Regional Conference on Domestic Violence Legal Reform, held in Sofia, Bulgaria, on February 12-14, 2008.  For a complete text of the draft law, see below.