Constitutional Court of the Azerbaijan Republic, On Conformity of Article 109 of the Law on Pension Maintenance of Citizens with Articles 25, 38 and 71 of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic, 29 December 1999
Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic
Article 12, paragraph 2: Supreme Aim of State
The human and civil rights and freedoms enumerated in this Constitution shall be exercised in accordance with international agreements to which the Azerbaijan Republic is party.
Article 148, paragraph 2: Acts Included in the Legislative System of the Azerbaijan Republic
International treaties, of which the Azerbaijan Republic is a party, shall be inalienable compound part of the legislative system of the Azerbaijan Republic.
Article 151: Legal Force of International Acts
When disputes, contra lotions have arisen between normative-legal acts included in the legislation system of the Azerbaijan Republic (excepting the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic and the acts passed via referendum) and international treaties, of which the Azerbaijan Republic is a party, the latter ones shall be applied.
Reference to international law to strengthen a decision based on domestic law
Reduction of pensions of persons serving prison sentences/ Institution of proceedings before the Constitutional Court/ Reference to international law to strengthen a decision based on domestic law
A law allowed citizens serving prison sentences only 20% of their retirement pensions. The public prosecutor had referred the case to the Azerbaijan Constitutional Court for examination of the constitutionality of this law. The Court found that this restriction was inconsistent with the articles of the Constitution guaranteeing rights to social protection and was also adding a new form of punishment for which no provision was made in the Criminal Code.
In order to demonstrate the fundamental nature of the rights to social protection the Court referred to the relevant articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights:
“In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Pact on the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights the restriction of the right for social maintenance of the condemned pensioners is not envisaged.
Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.”
In Article 9 of International Pact “On the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights” it is stipulated that each person has the right for social welfare, including social insurance.
The Constitutional Court of Azerbaijan Republic considers important to specify that the international practice does not recognize the condemnation of the person as a ground for deprivation of his/her right for social maintenance.”
After referring to international law to underline the fundamental nature of the right to social protection, the Constitutional Court of Azerbaijan ruled that the law restricting the pensions of convicts serving prison sentences violated the Constitution.