Azerbaijan’s Deputy Interior Minister: There is no similarity between the community police and Soviet people’s guard Azerbaijan’s Deputy Interior Minister, Lieutenant-General Oruj Zalov interviewed by APA
-What made it necessary to amend the law on “Police”?
-In accordance with the State Program on “Improving the activity of the police in Azerbaijan Republic” and present-day requirements, in order to increase the efficiency of public safety, struggle against crimes, strengthen the ties with the public, all classes of the society, ensure rights and freedoms of the people Interior Ministry made important functional and structural changes. As there was a need to increase the efficiency of the work of district police inspectors, much attention was paid to increase their role in ensuring public order and safety. In this respect, “Community policing” project has been implemented in Mingechevir since 2006 with support of OSCE Office in Baku. Since 2007, in Narimanov, Binagadi districts of Baku, police office of Ganja, Mingechevir, Khachmaz, Shirvan and Lankaran the service of district police inspectors was arranged in the status of “chief of administrative area”. The main aim of the project is to study the state of criminality in the administrative area, determine causes of the conditions of negative cases and eliminate them, intensify the work to prevent violations of law, strengthen the contacts of the district police inspectors with the related services, community, react quickly to the conflicting situations, involve them in raising awareness of the members of the community. Chiefs of administrative areas have also been empowered to investigate non-criminal appeals and reports of medical establishments, pass relevant decision, consider complaints about domestic conflicts, conflicts between neighbors, file petitions in connection with the violation of legislation before the bodies and organizations located in the area, deal with the problems of the area, impose fines for administrative faults, traffic rule mistakes envisaged in the Decree signed by Azerbaijan President in 2000. Normative legal base has been established to increase the efficiency of the activity of chiefs of administrative areas. Under the order of Interior Minister, Statutes on “Administrative area” and “Public Council for ensuring legal order” were confirmed to determine the tasks, functions, structure, legal status of the administrative areas and the Public Council.
The study of the situation shows that contacts of the chiefs of administrative areas with the residents, reception of the citizens in the district police departments, meetings concerning the problems of the area, addresses through local media, publishing of articles increased the confidence of the people in the police. Such authorities as to file petitions before the related bodies concerning the social, utility problems, ensure their execution strengthen the influence of the chiefs of administrative areas. In Mingechevir and Khachmaz, where the experiment is conducted fully, chiefs of administrative areas investigated 699 appeals (Mingechevir – 263, Khachmazx – 436) from the medical facilities in 2007-2008 and in the first quarter of the current year and passed decisions. Authorities of chiefs of administrative areas paved the way for closer contacts with the residents and reduced the work load of the investigative body. Compared with the first quarter of the last year, the number of the criminal reports considered by the investigators of Khachmaz region police office reduced by 52 percent and the decisions passed for rejecting to launch criminal cases reduced by 39.3 percent.
Ordinary citizens welcomed the application of new working methods extending the social functions of the police, reforms carried out in line with the international practice, reinforcement of the contacts with the civil society in ensuring public safety. Polls were conducted among 1400 respondents in Narimanov, Binagadi districts of Baku, Ganja, Mingechevir, Lankaran, Shirvan and Khachmaz cities of the republic. The great majority of the respondents expressed positive opinion of the experiment. This made it necessary to amend the law on “Police”. In order to increase the efficiency of the work, amendments were made to the Code of Administrative Offences. The President was appealed to determine the rights and duties of chiefs of administrative areas. On May 12, 2009, Azerbaijani’s President issued a decree on “Making annexes to the List of the persons having the power to consider the cases about administrative offences”. Under the decree, district police chiefs were empowered to consider the cases about administrative offences envisaged in 28 articles of the Code of Administrative Offences.
-What other countries have community police? Which countries’ experience did you use?
– When we began to implement this project, we sent our employees to London with the support of OSCE Office in Baku. Later, a number of senior officials of police offices visited Ankara and Istanbul. Most countries took relevant measures to establish confidence, healthy and working relations between the police and community. Experience shows that the policing bodies that can properly use the power of the community, establish bridge with the people, have good image in the society, and achieve high results in combating crimes and preventing violations of law. In Israel beginning from the 80s of the past century community police and professional police act together and the number of community police members is three times more than the number of professional police. Simply, they do not get salary for their work. They serve the state and people disinterestedly. “Community police” project was implemented in the biggest cities of Turkey – Istanbul, Ankara, Antalya. Taking into the international practice, Azerbaijani Interior Ministry established relevant normative base and prepared statute about public councils.
– Many compare the community police with the Soviet people’s guard. What similarities do you find between them?
– There are no similarities between them. The community police project is not a return to the past. It is irrelevant to compare the project recommended by OSCE and based on the international experience with the past experience. Why don’t so-called experts, who don’t understand the essence of this progressive process carrying out in the world context and ignore the innovations and modernization, accept the project which could strengthen ties between police and society, why don’t they understand how can it contribute to the development of working relations, trust and confidence between them? Some experts claim that the community police will be used in prevention of opposition actions. It is completely irrelevant idea. Does police need in that? There is a strong police in Azerbaijan meeting all modern demands and able to prevent all illegal actions. The law amendment has only progressive significance. I am inviting those experts to visit the regions and cities where the community police project is carried out to see the organizing of the work there. I believe that they will change their opinion when they see the real situation. Everybody should understand that the community councils are established for prevention and investigation of illegal actions, for education of the people to struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, violation of law, crimes. We must to protect young people and to prevent them from illegal actions and crimes. The community councils will work for the security of the buildings, streets, quarters, settlements, villages and the cities.
– Are there some restrictions in the number of community police and council members?
-There will not be restrictions in the staff number of the community councils and police which will be established together with local municipalities depending on local population size. The council members will work together with police chiefs to prevent illegal actions, violence against the people, to solve social problems, to care about the people and to win their trust. The laws amended by President Ilham Aliyev are working for the protection of the people’s rights, solving their problems and providing their security and therefore these amendments are welcomed by the society.
-Who is electing the council members?
-The council is elected by the people living in that area. We have started to establish the institution of administrative territory chief on June 1. Then local residents will determine the council composition. Of course, municipalities, executive authorities will also be involved in this process because every municipal body is interested in the improvement and security of its territory.
-What regions did establish the community councils so far?
– The community councils were established at first in Mingachevir, then in Shirvan, Narimanov District of Baku, Ganja, Yevlakh, Guba, Gazakh, Davachi and Tartar within the OSCE-sponsored community police project.
-Who can not be elected to the community council?
-There are certain restrictions. According to the law, previous convicted, or treated for mental problems, drug and alcohol addiction, disabled, morally corrupted persons can not be involved in the voluntary public activity for providing of public order and security.
-Do the community council members have a uniform?
-No, they don’t. The community police should be close to the citizens. I would like to notice that these reforms are carried out for the protection of public order, for security, stable development of the society, for welfare, peaceful education and recreation of our people. I believe that the society will be interested to take part in these reforms as well. /APA/