Delegation of the European Union to Azerbaijan

Further Support to the Penitentiary Reform in Azerbaijan

01/11/2017 - 12:00
Better Public Services

Project objectives and expected results: The European Union and the Council of Europe Joint Project on “Further support to the penitentiary reform in Azerbaijan” aims to assist the national authorities in reforming the country’s penitentiary system in line with European standards, with focus on promoting improved healthcare (including mental healthcare) services for inmates and human rights compliant practices in management of prisons.

More specifically, the current project will support further development of the capacity of prison medical staff, and enhancement of the professionalism of prison managers in three pilot prisons (including a prison for female offenders).

Through the activities agreed with national partners, the following results are anticipated to be achieved:

1) Primary healthcare services and data management in prisons are more closely aligned to international standards and best practices;

2) Wider range of non-pharmacological mental health services are introduced to prison medical staff;

3) Operational standards related to security, resocialisation and human rights in prisons are moved towards European standards and best practices.

Main activities and working method:

In order to achieve these results, the Council of Europe works together with the national partners to implement a variety of activities in the framework of the Project, including: assessment of legal framework and current practices; drafting of policies and action plans; training and peer exchange and other learning opportunities for medical and non-medical staff of prisons, including senior managers, as well as advice for pilot establishments and regular follow-up on the implementation of recommended actions.

Direct beneficiaries of the project are the medical and non-medical staff at all levels of three pilot prisons. The final beneficiaries are the prisoners of the three pilot prisons. However, overall outcomes of the project implementation are expected to be beneficial for other prisons and prison staff as well as for the general prison population in the country, and ultimately to the society in general.


Project achievements:

  • Thorough needs assessments on provision of healthcare services (including mental healthcare) for inmates and prison management were conducted in the three pilot prisons, which identified areas and recommended practical measures for reform. The authorities also benefited from a consultancy for developing action plans, and internal documents for improving the current situation in line with European standards and best practices. The Penitentiary Service and Main Medical Department developed action plans with measures aimed at improvement of professional capacity of the medical and non-medical prison staff, adoption of internal rules and procedures, introduction of Personal Officer scheme in the three pilot prisons, etc. With technical assistance from the CoE consultants, the Penitentiary Service drafted an action plan to introduce Personal Officer scheme in the three pilot prisons, and the Main Medical Department developed an Instruction on partial restraint of movement and seclusion, for the purpose of care of prisoners in acute mental health conditions, who may inflict harm to themselves and others.
  • An important publication, the CoE Manual on “Healthcare in Prisons and Medical Ethics”, was translated into Azerbaijani language and 500 copies of the publication were distributed among project partners in order to increase awareness of the respective European standards among prison staff responsible for wellbeing of prison inmates.
  • In May 2017, a group of medical and non-medical penitentiary staff responsible for healthcare for prison inmates in Azerbaijan benefited from a study visit to two prisons and a hospital in Madrid, Spain.  As a result of the visit, the participants obtained a first-hand insight on Spanish experience with organization of primary and specialized healthcare services for inmates, examination and treatment of prevalent infectious diseases, implementation of harm-reduction measures in prisons, organization and management of electronic medical files, use of distant medical consultations, provision of occupational and leisure-time activities for inmates and re-socialization measures.
  • Some 200 medical and non-medical penitentiary staff enhanced their knowledge of European standards and best practices on effective and humane prison management and provision of healthcare for prisoners through a number of other capacity development (training and consultancy) activities organised within the Project.   


Project duration:

Duration of the Joint Project of the European Union and the Council of Europe is 20 months. The project is expected to be completed by 30 April 2018.

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