A Missed Opportunity for Effective Legal Advice
Posted by rasul at September 6th, 2010
Rasul Jafarov, International Bridges to Justice’s 2010 JusticeMaker Fellow in Azerbaijan, has recently launched a project to develop comprehensive legal education programs in Azeri prisons. In support of this project, Rasul approached the Ministry of Justice Penitentiary Services with a request to begin his “Public Initiatives on Releasing Prisoners Early” program. In response, the Ministry of Justice Penitentiary Services informed Rasul that they regularly explain to prisoners what their rights are, and that currently they did not envision a need for a program such as Rasul’s.
IBJ applauds the Azerbaijani government for offering some education to its prison population, but encourages the Ministry of Justice to foresee the value of a supplementary education on the right of early release for those prisoners who qualify. The benefits of such a program could decrease the overall prison population, saving money and space for highly dangerous individuals. IBJ has encouraged Rasul to approach the Ministry again in order to convince them of the benefits of public-private collaboration in this initiative.
Additionally, in response to Rasul’s proactive questioning, the Ministry of Justice Penitentiary Services made public statistics regarding early release over the last three years through pardon decrees and amnesty acts. Further facts, specifically regarding individuals freed due to health problems and other humanitarian factors, would be helpful in order to give a more complete picture of Azerbaijan’s prison population.
In addition to the work highlighted above, Rasul has set up a hotline to advise family members of inmates on the rights of their incarcerated loved ones. Through this project, Rasul hopes to make legal rights knowledge more pervasive and allow families to take advantage of actions which are legally available to them.