ANTI-CORRUPTION FIGHT SHOULD BEGIN FROM CUSTOMS, RIGHTS DEFENDER SAYS

February 17th, 2011

Today, IRFS Director Emin Huseynov held a press conference to speak about the pressures and illegal affairs he faced in State Customs Committee at Baku Airport, the defiance to his complaints and multiple illegal affairs in customs sphere.

“On February 1st, upon my flight back to Baku from Dubai, I was illegally held for 3 hours at the Customs checkpoint and my things were confiscated. I have appealed to the State Customs Committee Head Aydin Aliyev, who has not responded so far. However, I should say that 4 days after the appeal, a person named Isa, who identified himself as the Chief of Customs Committee Internal Investigations Office, phoned and invited me to the Committee to investigate the complaint. However, in the meeting with him, he began to defend the customs employees. I told him that his employees viewed my things without my consent. I told him that they had special equipment which allows them to view the bags very easily. According to Isa, they do it to prevent drug trafficking. Then I brought up the specially trained dogs, which are trained in the canine center in Azerbaijan. This time he brought up an interesting argument: the religious followers protest against these dogs in the airport,” Huseynov noted.
According to Huseynov, Isa told him to go to the airport and pay the required fees, and then take his things. Isa had also told him that he had phoned to Customs official named Imran and informed him.
“In the airport, the said person met me and gave me a document which set a fee that was by twice as I as what had I paid for the things in Dubai. I was told that this price evaluation was implemented by the Justice Ministry Examination department experts, who have 13 years of experience with technical equipment. While making this evaluation, they also considered the old cameras that I had taken to Dubai as new cameras,” Huseynov said. Huseynov says that he then proposed to evaluate the 2 phones, 2 TV stations, 2 video cameras, lamp, and car music players with the prices set by relevant monopolist companies for Azerbaijan. His proposal was rejected.
“Besides, I felt that they wanted to libel me. There were two civilians in Imran’s room. They served a cup of tea to me and insisted on my drinking it,” Huseynov said and added that he will turn to the President, Prosecutor’s Office and Anti-Corruption Office.
The Human Rights defender believes that there is serious corruption in customs: he would not have faced these problems if he had paid a bribe of 300 AZN for the things he brought. Huseynov considers that as a result of corruption, monopoly and bureaucracy, 1 kg of bananas costs 4 AZN in Azerbaijan, whereas the figure is 0.48 AZN in the world market.