Fight against illegal drug trafficking
ANTI-TRAFFICKING AND GOVERNMENT POLICIES
As a transit point at the intersection of Europe and Asia, Azerbaijan is particularly exposed to transnational trafficking practices.
Furthermore, the occupation of 20% of the Azerbaijani territories by Armenian military forces that resulted in 132 km of the southern state border not being controlled by the Government of Azerbaijan, constitutes a major impediment for achieving progress in the fight against trafficking not only in Azerbaijan but also in the entire region, since this border area, the so-called "criminal black hole", is used as an attractive trafficking channel.
Therefore, challenges stand high for the Government to strengthen its efforts in order to efficiently tackle this problem on the domestic level as well as contribute to international endeavours through its involvement in multilateral and bilateral cooperation to combat international terrorism, transnational organized crime, money-laundering, trafficking and other illegal activities.
TRAFFICKING IN DRUGS
Based on the research, the following major drug trafficking routes that traverse Azerbaijan have been identified:
- Afghanistan - Iran - Azerbaijan - Europe
- Afghanistan - Turkmenistan - Azerbaijan - Europe
- Afghanistan - Uzbekistan - Azerbaijan - Europe
For the last decade, the number of crimes related to drugs and the amount of drugs obtained from illegal circulation has increased about three times. During 1998-2002 11.691 facts of crime have been detected and 560 kg of narcotic drugs have been confiscated. Criminal proceedings have been instituted against 10.694 citizens of Azerbaijan and other states.
The campaign against illicit drug trafficking is conducted in accordance with the provisions of domestic legislation. State bodies responsible for organizing the monitoring of the safe circulation of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursors, which are required to make constant efforts to control the spread of drug addiction, are the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of the Interior, their special structural departments and other bodies.
In view of the urgency of the problem of controlling illicit trafficking, intensive work is being carried out in order to establish a legal basis for combating these types of offences.
Azerbaijan has joined the UN Conventions on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, Psychotropic Substances of 1971 and Narcotic Substances, Psychotropic Substances and Fight Against Illegal Circulation of Precursors of 1988 and concluded bilateral and multilateral agreements, memorandums with a number of countries on crime and fight against drugs.
Besides three UN conventions on drugs Azerbaijan is a party to the Partial Agreement establishing the Pompidou Group of the Council of Europe on cooperation to combat drug abuse and illicit trafficking in drugs (resolutions 80 (02) and 80 (15) of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe; the Law on Accession by the Republic of Azerbaijan, No. 78-IIQ of 16 February 2001).
Relevant cooperation agreements to combat trafficking narcotic drugs have been signed with appropriate agencies of the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Egypt, the Gulf States, the CIS and other countries.
Azerbaijan actively participates in a number of international projects in this field. In the framework of the Drug Control Program in South Caucasus jointly financed by EU and UN, nine regional centers have been created within the Ministry of Interior and a national computerized database on drugs, psychotropic substances and illegal circulation of precursors and drug addicts has been developed.
Azerbaijan is a member of the Centralized Database on nationals involved in drug-related cases in the CIS area, established within the Russian Ministry of Interior in accordance with the Kiev Agreement of 1992.
The tasks of state bodies in the area of combating drug addiction and illicit drug trafficking are defined by the Decree of the President of August 26, 1996 on Measures to Combat Drug Addiction and Illicit Drug Trafficking and the Law of June 18, 1999 on Control of Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Precursors. In the process of implementation of these legal instruments relevant provisions (Art. 234-241) were incorporated in the Criminal Code.
The Law on the Prosecutor's Office provides for monitoring by the prosecutor of compliance with the law of investigation, inquiry, intelligence and detection activities in relation to these cases. Active measures are being taken to prevent and avert drug-related crimes.
The State Program to combat illicit drug trafficking and the spread of drug addiction, approved by the Decree of the President dated July 15, 2000, is a key document defining the strategy of fight against illegal circulation of drugs and determining the role and tasks of the law enforcement bodies in combating drug addiction and illicit drug trafficking, and also of other state bodies which are responsible for conducting a continuous campaign to control the spread of drug addiction and for organizing the monitoring of the safe circulation of drugs. On the basis of the provisions of this Program and a number of other regulatory instruments, the law enforcement bodies of Azerbaijan wage an effective campaign against offences linked with illicit drug trafficking and smuggling.
The State Commission created with the Decree of the President on Fight against Drug Addiction and Illegal Circulation of Drugs of 1997 has accelerated the activities undertaken in this sphere. The State Commission is the main coordinating body for interagency cooperation on formulation of counter-trafficking policies. The results of the work carried out and the degree of fulfillment of the provisions of the Program are periodically reviewed at meetings of the State Commission. To streamline this process, starting from 2000 the Commission increased its representation throughout the country by setting up local commissions in some towns and regions. Fulfilling their responsibilities under the domestic legislation, relevant government agencies prioritize implementation of the following tasks:
- strengthening border control over frontier-crossing transport means, goods and persons;
- exchange of information among law-enforcement agencies with the aim to determine planned attempts of drug trafficking;
- awareness raising and dissemination of information among the population of border areas;
- collection, classification and analysis of drug trafficking data etc.
in the illegal trafficking of migrants have also been detected at the Azerbaijani border with Iran, Georgia and Russia and their illegal activities have been discontinued.