Corruption in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is a member of GRECO and OECD’s Anti-Corruption Network. Its anti-corruption measures are monitored by their monitoring mechanisms. Council of Europe ’s Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) notes that despite of having anti – corruption policies and measures by the Government of Azerbaijan,. [1] [2]

Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perception Index ranks the country 119th place out of 176 countries [3]

International anti-corruption indices and reports

According to Transparency International , Azerbaijan demonstrates improvement in international anti-corruption reports; However, its position in these indices is weak compared to that of neighboring countries, such as Georgia and Turkey . [4] [3] Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perception Index (CPI), Azerbaijan achieved its best position in the year 2000. [3]

Thus, in 2015, Azerbaijan was ranked 20th out of 168 countries compared to 2001 when it was ranked 87th out of 90 countries. [5] The 2015 CPI results show that even though Azerbaijan is ahead of the Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, it is behind Georgia and Turkey. [5]

The World Bank ’s Global Governance Indicators supports the above – mentioned comparative statistics between countries and reports that Azerbaijan‘ s ability to control corruption has increased to 20 (2015) from 7 (2000). [6]

The 2013 Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) report of Transparency International indicates that 9% of respondents in Azerbaijan think that corruption has increased a lot. [7] While 69% consider that the government’s efforts are effective in the fight against corruption, moreover, 71% of respondents agree that an ordinary person can make a difference in the fight against corruption in Azerbaijan. [7] Citizens participation and the values ​​of integrity, accountability, and transparency are crucial components of fighting corruption. It is important to develop programs and actions to change the understanding of corruption. [8]

In the 2013 GCB report, health, the judiciary, and the police were perceived to be the most corrupt sectors by respondents. In comparison to the 2010 GCB report, improvement is noted in the most recent report of the civil service, education, and police. [4] It is noted that, contrary to international perceptions, Azerbaijani respondents perceive political parties as one of the least corrupt [4]

The 2014 National Integrity Assessment report of the Azerbaijani National Chapter of Transparency International features Azerbaijan as a strong executive branch, and the law enforcement and anti-corruption agencies while the report indicates that the judiciary and legislative branches of governance are comparatively weak, with the pillars that performance watchdog functions, including civil society, the media, and political parties, being weakest links in the national integrity system. [4]

According to the Global Integrity Index (GIX) (2011), the anti-corruption legislative framework of Azerbaijan is strong (89 out of 100); however, its implementation is very weak (38 out of 100) [9]

Azerbaijan has improved its anti-corruption legislation to bring it into line with the standards of international conventions. However, it lacks the necessary legislative authority, thus creating disparity between the existing legislation and its application. [9]

Azerbaijan is a member of the Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) and has passed its first, second and third evaluation rounds. [1] In GRECO’s fourth assessment round report, it is noted that, even though serious anti-corruption efforts have been made by the Azerbaijani government to fight against corruption, corruption is still being referred to the country. [1] In addition, the GRECO report notes that the lack of control on the ancillary activities and asset disclosure of Members of Parliament weakens the anti-corruption framework: the report recommends that anti-corruption efforts be deepened and institutionalized in the field of asset declaration and conflicts of interest. [1]

Azerbaijan has signed the Istanbul Anti-Corruption Action Plan ( Istanbul Action Plan , or IAP) which covers Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan and the other ACN countries in 2003. The Implementation of the plan includes regular and systematic peer review of the legal, and institutional framework for fighting corruption in the country by the signing parties. Since then Azerbaijan has actively taken part in the monitoring rounds. [10]

The international corruption reports and surveys that Azerbaijan is demonstrating the improvement of anti-corruption rankings, but its progress is relatively slower than that of neighboring countries. Furthermore, Azerbaijan has advanced with its anti-corruption legislation and strong executive branch; However, the legislature and the judiciary are perceived to be weaker and more vulnerable to corruption. [4]

On March 2017, the authorities of Azerbaijan have authorized publication of the Fourth Round Compliance Report on Azerbaijan by GRECO. [11]

Political context and background timeline of corruption issues

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in late 1991, the transition period in Azerbaijan was further complicated by the inability of the national political elite to ensure the existence of public institutions during 1991-1993 [12] In addition, during those years , Azerbaijan was forced to engage in armed clashes with Armenia over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh . [13] In 1993, as a result of the invasion by Armenia, Azerbaijan lost 20% of its territory. In the same year, the United Nations Security Council adopted four resolutions (822, 853, 874 and 884) which condemned the use of force against Azerbaijan and the occupation of its territories. [14]The Security Council demands from Armenia the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces. [14]

As a result of the war with Armenia, the influx of one million refugees and one of the most vulnerable people in Azerbaijan (Badalov and Mehdi, 2004). This is a tragic event shifted the priority of the country from building public institutions to accommodating internally displaced people (IDPs) and providing them with the necessary living standards. [12] In addition, the collapse of the Soviet Union caused economic paralysis in Azerbaijan. Therefore, the main priorities of the Azerbaijani government are to be of interest to the international community. [12]

First indicator of anti-corruption political will

Following a period of state building after 1993, President Heydar Aliyev identified four key reform areas: (i) re-organization of state institutions; (ii) adoption of clear and transparent regulations for civil service recruitment; (iii) creation of various anti-corruption and judicial institutions; and (iv) the establishment of an anti-corruption policy. [15]President Aliyev next signed the decree on „Strengthening the fight against corruption in the Republic of Azerbaijan“ on 8 August 2000, which is considered to be the first indicator of the commitment of political will to fight against corruption in Azerbaijan. The document clearly states that it has been made in the field of fighting against economic crimes, bribery and corruption in public administration [15]

The paper also noted that some public officials have been misusing their powers to embezzle the state property. [15] Furthermore, it has been stated that the private sector and the tax authorities have been impediments to the establishment of a safe market economy, entrepreneurship and foreign direct investment (FDIs). This anti-corruption decree shows that the fight against corruption has come to a halt after the year of independence, and that the main reason behind this document was to attract foreign investment. Another important aspect of this issue is that it is assigned to the State Program on Combating Corruption. [15]

Institutional arrangements and coordination mechanisms

Commission on Combating Corruption

Commission on Combating Corruption is set up according to Article 4.2 of the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on „Fight Against Corruption“ and functions as a specialized agency on combating corruption since 2005. Commission is composed of 15 members. 5 members of the Commission are appointed by the President of the Republic, 5 by the Parliament and the 5 by the Constitutional Court. The statute of the approved by the Law of Azerbaijan Republic dated May 3, 2005 defines the authorities of the Commission.

Commission’s main objectives are:

  • to take part in the training of state of the art in the area of ​​combating corruption
  • to coordinate the activities of public institutions in this area
  • to supervise the implementation of the State Program on Combating Corruption
  • to analyze the efficiency of the state and corruption struggle contre
  • to receive financial statements contemplated in Section 5.1 of the law „On Combating Corruption“
  • to collect, analyze and summarize information
  • to make proposals to the appropriate public institutions
  • to cooperate with public and other institutions in the field of combating corruption
  • to receive complaints and applications from individuals

Commission in order to reach its objectives,

  • to test and generalize the state of execution of anti-corruption legislation and to provide
  • to receive from state and local administrative bodies;
  • to receive information on the state of the implementation of the State Program on Combating Corruption from the corresponding state bodies and analyzes of the State of the Implementation Works;
  • to prepare recommendations and proposals for increasing the effectiveness of combating corruption and eliminating shortcomings in the field of combating corruption and taking measures for their implementation;
  • to take measures for organization of public awareness in the area of ​​combating corruption and conduction of public surveys
  • to cooperate with NGOs, mass media, private sector representatives, independent experts and in case of necessity for the execution of certain tasks;
  • to take part in international cooperation for increasing the efficiency and organization of the fight against corruption;
  • to send the materials for examination to the competent authority,
  • to make proposals for the improvement of anti-corruption legislation;

Commission shall have other provided by the legislation.

Commission on Combating Corruption (CCC) is the main organization and government body which is responsible for policies and prevention measures against corruption. CCC is also responsible for making progress and action plans according to the international organizations‘ requirements. Azerbaijan has joined with the purpose of eliminating corruption. Azerbaijan has also adopted National Action Plan for 2016-2018 on the Promotion of Open Government (hereinafter Action Plan) which addresses anti-corruption, through public consultations with the help of proposals of several NGOs.

Anti-Corruption General Directorate

Anti-Corruption (bribery) General Directorate of the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Azerbaijan was established by the Order of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan No.114 dated March 3, 2004. Directorate General – is a body specialized in the field of The Prosecutor General of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Main responsibilities of the Directorate include: to institute criminal proceedings and conduct a preliminary investigation of corruption; carry out operational-search activities to prevent, detect and disclose corruption crimes; on the basis of orders of the Directorate to oversee the implementation of laws in the implementation of operational-search measures on corruption by other bodies of operational and search activities; compensation for material damage caused by corruption; get acquainted with measures on fight against corruption; collect, analyze, and summarize information on offenses relating to corruption; to enhance the effectiveness of the fight against corruption and make recommendations; ensure the implementation of safety measures of witnesses, victims, defendants and others involved in criminal proceedings during the preliminary investigation of crimes, as well as during the trial of these crimes; via the Prosecutor General to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Commission for Combating Corruption on the measures undertaken in the field of fight against corruption; cooperation with the government and other authorities in the field of fighting corruption; to inform the public on their activities, to ensure transparency in its activities, etc. defendants and others involved in criminal proceedings during the preliminary investigation of corruption crimes, as well as during the trial of these crimes; via the Prosecutor General to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Commission for Combating Corruption on the measures undertaken in the field of fight against corruption; cooperation with the government and other authorities in the field of fighting corruption; to inform the public on their activities, to ensure transparency in its activities, etc. defendants and others involved in criminal proceedings during the preliminary investigation of corruption crimes, as well as during the trial of these crimes; via the Prosecutor General to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Commission for Combating Corruption on the measures undertaken in the field of fight against corruption; cooperation with the government and other authorities in the field of fighting corruption; to inform the public on their activities, to ensure transparency in its activities, etc. via the Prosecutor General to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Commission for Combating Corruption on the measures undertaken in the field of fight against corruption; cooperation with the government and other authorities in the field of fighting corruption; to inform the public on their activities, to ensure transparency in its activities, etc. via the Prosecutor General to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Commission for Combating Corruption on the measures undertaken in the field of fight against corruption; cooperation with the government and other authorities in the field of fighting corruption; to inform the public on their activities, to ensure transparency in its activities, etc.

Civil Service Commission

Corruption practices, including nepotism and cronyism, were widespread in Azerbaijan until 2005 Azerbaijan did not have the necessary legislative and institutional basis to prevent corruption in one of the most important sectors of public administration. The widespread practice used in the recruitment of staff was based on recommendations and snatches. In addition, Azerbaijan did not have a merit-based recruitment system and the Chief Executives of the executive bodies had a full recourse to staff. In 2005, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) was established by Presidential Decree, (Istanbul Anti-corruption Action Plan, 2016). Furthermore, the CSC has powers to audit the ethics of compliance and the protection of civil servants.

The CSC has reduced the risk of corruption and has prevented the use of personal affiliations in the civil service recruitment system. Some loopholes are still present in the recruitment system: the OECD Anti-Corruption Network has pointed out that new preventive regulations should also cover the recruitment of high-level civilian servants.

ASAN Service

Issues of corruption in public service delivery are one of the problematic areas within the public sector. Citizens faced administrative burdens and bureaucratic barriers. In some situations, citizens have been extracted to pay bribes to obtain public services. To eliminate corruption in public service delivery, a new preventive institution, namely, the Azerbaijan service assessment network (ASAN) ( asan means „easy“ in Azerbaijani) was established by Presidential Decree in 2012. [16] Currently, this institution provides 34 services for 10 state bodies. It was the first one-stop-shop service delivery model in the world to provide the services of various states bodies rather than the services of one state body. [16]

No conflict of interest exists between ASAN service employees and Azerbaijani citizens as ASAN service employees. All services are provided by the employees of the state under one roof, based on the standards of the ASAN service. Employees of the ASAN service monitor the work of the state bodies, check for compliance with the ethics and the tail system. [16]

Monitoring report by OECD has been prepared for Azerbaijani Service and Assessment Network (ASAN), which has contributed to eliminating the conditions that are conducive to corruption when delivering various administrative services to the public „. [17] Azerbaijan 2016 report by EEAS ASAN services have been a great help in the elimination of corruption and bribery, as well as removing bureaucracy in public service delivery. [18]

A similar institution is prepared to be established in Afghanistan as well. A Memorandum of Understanding between the State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Afghanistan on July 12, 2016. The aim of the Memorandum is to establish a public service delivery mechanism in Afghanistan based on Azerbaijani model „ASAN service“. [19]

Judicial-Legal Council (JLC)

The Judicial-Legal Council (JLC), established in 2005, is an independent body and has organizational and financial independence. It is financed from the budget and its prospective year’s budget can not be less than the previous year’s budget. The JLC has 15 members, one of the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Bar Association of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and one member is from the executive body. The JLC has the competence to carry out the selection of candidate judges and to conduct evaluation, promotion and transfer of judges. Those members of the JLC who are not judges are also granted immunity.

The JLC has the authority to enter into the jurisdiction of the disciplinary liability; to discuss the issue of terminating the term of judges; and to propose this course of action to the relevant state body. Furthermore, the JLC has the right to endorse the Prosecutor General’s Office to initiate criminal proceedings against them and to suspend them from their position. The JLC also analyzes the activities of judges and the organization of the courts; submits proposals concerning the improvement of legislation related to courts and judges; and arranges specialized courses, and reporting seminars and training to the professionalism of judges. The JLC Convenes the Judges‘ Selection Committee which has the right to select candidates for vacant judicial posts. This Committee is composed of 11 members, who includes

Legal framework for the work of anti-corruption

The main anti-corruption law, the Law of 2004 on Combating Corruption , which defines the directions of the fight against corruption, was adopted on 13 January 2004. This law, which consists of the following four chapters, defines the main principles and fighting against corruption: (i) general provisions; (ii) prevention of corruption; (iii) criminalization of corruption; and (iv) removal of the proceeds of corruption.

This law explained the notion of corruption; introduced a list of corruption offenses (stipulating that these offenses will give rise to civil, administrative and criminal liability); identified specialized anti-corruption agencies (ACAs); and rules of the rule of law on asset declarations, the rule of restrictions on gifts and the prohibition on working together for those who are next of kin.

In 2006, a new chapter on corruption was added to the Azerbaijani Criminal Code. It is important that UNCAC’s Article 15 (Bribery of national public officials); Article 16 (Bribery of foreign public officials and officials of public international organizations); and Article 21 (Bribery in the private sector), which together criminalizes the active and passive organizational / administrative or administrative-economic functions in commercial and non-commercial organizations.

UNCAC’s Article 17 (Embezzlement, misappropriation or other diversion of property by a public official) and Article 22 (criminalization of property in the private sector) are criminalized in the Azerbaijani Criminal Code along with Article 178 (Fraud) and Article 179 (Misappropriation and embezzlement of property). Article 178 and 179, an aggravating condition for both criminal offenses and the offense of a criminal offense the private sector (, 2016).

It should be noted that UNCAC’s Article 18 (Trading in Influence) and Article 19 (Abuse of power) are not mandatory, but both active / passive trading in influence and abuse of power have been criminalized in Azerbaijan Criminal Code with Article 308 (Abuse of power) and Article 312-1 (Trading in influence).

Illicit enrichment, UNCAC non-mandatory requirement, is not criminalized in Azerbaijan’s national legislation. Very few states have introduced this type of corruption into the criminal justice system, which is one of the most controversial aspects of this problem (Dionisie and Checchi, 2007). To elaborate, in illicit enrichment, public officials are obliged to explain the source of a significant increase in its assets and financial situation. It is important to note that the reversal of the burden of proof is inseparable from the presumption of innocence and the protection of property, as well as from the European Convention on Human Rights (Huseynov, 2014).

In addition, the Azerbaijani Criminal Code criminalizes the laundering of the proceeds of crime and its concealment: this legislation fully complies with the mandatory obligation arising from UNCAC’s Article 23 (Laundering of proceeds of crime) and Article 24 (Concealment). Article 193-1 of the Criminal Code includes two crimes on money laundering. Firstly, the Criminal Code criminalizes the concealment of the real source, disposition, movement or ownership of the rights to money and other property, knowing that they have been obtained through illegal acts. Secondly, the Criminal Code criminalizes the carrying out of financial operations, the conversion or the transfer of proceeds of crime.

The Criminal Code provides for the following: sanctions, confiscation, depriving a legal person of the right to engage in certain activities, or liquidation of a legal entity. Even though it has been advanced, it has not been adopted into the criminal code of criminal procedure. The Criminal Code is not self-executing law: each liability or measure in the Criminal Code has to be regulated with the Criminal Procedure Code.

Article 29 (Statute of limitations). Article 75 of the Azerbaijani Criminal Code indicates that a person shall be released from criminal liability

  • two years after the commission of a crime
  • seven years after the commission of a less-serious crime
  • twelve (12) years after the commission of a serious crime
  • twenty (20) years after the commission of a particularly serious crime.

The Criminal Code specifies that the limitation period is committed to the crime is committed to the time the court verdict is entered. If a new crime is committed, the limitation period for each crime should be counted separately. The statute of limitations should be stopped if the trial is evading the investigation for the short trial. In this situation, the limitation period should be resumed at the time of detaining the accused or his / her acknowledgment of guilt.

Preventive anti-corruption legislation

UNCAC’s Article 5 (Preventing anti-corruption policies and practices) requires effective implementation and coordinated anti-corruption policies. In the last 10 years, the Azerbaijan government has adopted five anti-corruption programs:

  • State Program on Combating Corruption (2004-2006)
  • National Strategy on Increasing Transparency and Fighting Against Corruption (2007-2011)
  • National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (2012-2015)
  • National Action Plan for Promoting Open Government (2012-2015)
  • National Action Plan for Promoting Open Government (2016-2018)

It should be noted that all states and action plans were adopted with Presidential Decrees. In the state programs, key anti-corruption laws were adopted; the specialized ACAs began functioning; were implemented in state institutions; and efficient cooperative relationships with CSOs have been established. Azerbaijan has ratified all international documents on the fight against corruption. The implemented reforms have been positively impacted on economic development, with Azerbaijan becoming a world leader in gross domestic product (GDP) during 2005-2006. As a result of the measures implemented, the state budget has been dramatically increased.

Within Azerbaijan’s national anti-corruption strategies, national legislation has been brought into line with the requirements of international conventions on the fight against corruption. In addition, the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure have been amended to criminalize bribery / active bribery, trading in influence, abuse of corruption and other related offenses. These corruption offenses have been included in the category of serious crimes. Furthermore, the new Law of 2014 on the Prevention of the Legalization of Criminally Obtained Funds or Other Property and the Financing of Terrorism has been adopted into the Criminal Code to criminalize money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

The Law of 2011 on Reviewing Citizens‘ Appeals to the Appellants and Appellants of the Appellate Body.

One of the keys to the legislation of the United States, the Law of 2005 on Access to Information for the United States. of information to be disclosed. In addition, it is necessary to provide information to the public and to provide information about the work of state bodies. More than 30 laws have been amended to satisfy the implementation of this law. The electronic database of Azerbaijan’s national legislation was established and made available.

The Law of 2007 on the Rules of Ethics Conduct of Civil Servants was adopted by the Ministries of Customs and Taxes. This law provided: on gifts; impermissibility of acquiring material and non-material gifts, privileges and concessions; prevention of corruption; prevention of conflict of interest; and use of information and property.

Article 13 (Prevention of Corruption) of the Law of 2007 on the Rules of Ethics Conduct of Civil Servants indicates that a civil servant shall refuse any offered illegal material / non-material gifts or privileges. In the case of those gifts and privileges, it is recommended that the principles of the civil service be used.

Article 14 (Prohibition on accepting gifts) of this law provides that the civil servant shall not demand or accept any gift which may influence his / her work. However, a civil servant may accept the gift as a sign of hospitality but this should not exceed the value of € 30. If a civil servant is not sure that he / she should accept the gift, he / she must consult with his / her immediate supervisor.

See also

  • ASAN service
  • Commission on Combating Corruption


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