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Mass amnesty bill goes to Azerbaijani parliament

3 November 2021
Photo: Zaur Mustafaev/Trend.az.

A draft resolution has been submitted to the Azerbaijani parliament. If passed it would grant amnesty to an estimated 16,000 people.

The draft resolution was submitted to the parliament by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and if passed would come into force on 8 November, Victory Day.  

The last mass amnesty in Azerbaijan approved by the Azerbaijani parliament was in 2016 — when over 10,000 people were pardoned with over 2,800 being released from prison.

The upcoming mass amnesty is planned to be enacted over a period of four months and will apply to several categories of individuals, most of which appear to have some connection to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and Armenia-Azerbaijan relations. 

According to the draft document, the amnesty will include Azerbaijani combatants in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War and their relatives, victims and relatives of the victims of the 1992 Khojaly massacre, those displaced from Armenia between 1948-1952 and 1988-1992, those Azerbaijanis displaced during the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, and those who were injured as well as relatives of those killed during the Soviet crackdown in Baku on 20 January 1990 — also known as Black January.  

The amnesty will only apply to those who have committed crimes that do ‘not pose a major public threat’. If passed, it would be the largest amnesty in the history of independent Azerbaijan. 

Novella Jafaroglu, a member of the Human Rights Monitoring Group, a coalition of six independent Azerbaijani NGOs, told OC Media that the amnesty is a positive step, though it is not expected that any political prisoners will be released. 

According to the Human Rights Monitoring Group, Azerbaijan currently holds 38 political prisoners. Jafaroglu said that he believes that some political prisoners ‘will be named in the pardon decree expected on New Year's Eve after the amnesty’ and that ‘negotiations are underway in this direction’.

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