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The lack of a well-functioning professional defense bar and the limited number of licensed defense advocates are major hurdles to the effective administration of justice in Azerbaijan. The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) works to alleviate these challenges by addressing some of the needs of the criminal defense community and non-governmental stakeholders.
The bar exam is offered on an unpredictable schedule approximately once every two years, and young advocates have few practical training opportunities in important criminal justice subjects. ABA ROLI strives to expand professional development opportunities by training lawyers on the European Court of Human Rights judgments and on Azerbaijan’s new administrative law. ABA ROLI prepares young lawyers for the judicial exam and the bar exam, develops reference materials on criminal and administrative codes and procedures, and trains defense attorneys and other legal professionals on domestic violence and human trafficking issues as well as on the criminal and criminal procedure codes.
With the support of the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor Trafficking in Persons, ABA ROLI implements an anti-human trafficking program in Azerbaijan to prevent the exploitation of potential victims, protect current victims and prosecute perpetrators. ABA ROLI educates at-risk children and rural populations, provides legal advice and representation to human-trafficking victims and their families, and conducts technical anti-human trafficking trainings for judges, lawyers and victim advocates.
ABA ROLI conducts anti-human trafficking street law programs to equip children in state-run orphanages with the knowledge they need to fend off the lures of human traffickers once they leave the orphanages. The programs focus on helping the children see through empty promises of employment, foreign travel and the like. ABA ROLI also educates the more vulnerable rural communities and provides free legal services to human-trafficking victims and their families. Additionally, ABA ROLI trains judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and victim advocates in trial skills, anti-human trafficking legislation and in the broader economic push-pull factors of human trafficking.