Migration management and regulation of migration processes: realities and perspectives
On December 18, 1990 Convention on “Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their families”was adopted by the General Assembly of United Nations. Since 2000, the 18th of December is celebrated as International Migrants Day. This Convention was ratified by Law of Milli Majlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated from December 11, 1998.
Chief of the State Migration Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan Firudin Nabiyev answered questions ofAzerTac correspondent on the occasion of this remarkable day.
- Mr. Nabiyev, as our interview run into December 18 – International Migrants Day, I would like to ask your opinion about migration, past and present of migration processes. Let’s make a short flashback to the history, take a look at current realities and perspective plans on migration policy.
- Migration becomes an international issue and demands serious analysis in contemporary world.The history of movement of people looking for work and decent life, to countries with higher salaries and better labor conditions goes back to ancient times. But migration flows from developing countries to developed countries, especially to Europe and USA intensified since 70s of the last century. Today the Republic of Azerbaijan can be considered as one of destination countries that face with such a flow.
It should be noted that the number of migrants in the world exceeded 232 million, according to last year’s statistics of United Nations. Taking into consideration thatthe number was considerably less in 1990 – 154 million, so we can easily imagine the dynamics in this sphere.
According to existing data, last year approximately 50 million people were forced from their homeland and half of them were children. This is the biggest indicator since the World War II. The main reason is that people are running from crisis and conflicts in their countries.What is worst, this number has been increasing in recent years. There is always hope besides fear in people’s hearts. Perhaps for that reason people try to change their settlements with more secure destinations.
Some people think that migrants can be profitable for societywith their persistence, the others think the opposite. It is interesting that labor migrants are divided into different categories in today’s world. Some states mainly interested in migration of professional experts to their countries in order to use their intellectual and labor potential. Besides, elimination of negative impact of irregular migration processes, prevention of illegal migration including human trafficking is one of the main priorities of migration bodies around the world. Of course, migration of people, especially irregular migration are among significant issues that affect national and economic security of every state.
The Republic of Azerbaijan faced with this problem at the end of 80s and the beginning of 90s of the last century. So, Azerbaijan which recently restored its independence faced with difficult challenge of 250 thousand of compatriots seeking refuge from Armenia, which turned terrorism to state policy, including 1 million internal migrants who became IDPs as a result of occupation of our territories. This migration flow worsened existing crisis for the country which newly restored sovereignty, changed its political system and faced with aggression. At that time, international organizations and some countries supported our republic to eliminate consequences arising from mass migration in order to get out of difficulties. But Azerbaijan could only survive from these hardships after National Leader HeydarAliyev’s returning to political power, state independence was achievedin the true sense of the word, proper strategic development way was determined. As a result of this successful policy, our republic has become a donor country. We can proudly say that, Azerbaijan government, so to speak, returns its humanitarian debt, acts as a donor in countries with natural disasters and conflicts. All the mentioned issues, as well as political and economic power of our state increased the number of people intending to migrate to Azerbaijan.
In this case, measures are taken by the state for regulation of migration processes in our country in accordance with public interests and international norms. Because irregular migration creates difficulties for society and migrants, as well asgrounds for violation of human rights and freedomsin terms of socio – economic security. This matter is more actual forlabor migrants who don’t register their stay by thinking they are staying temporarily in destination country,livewith invalid documents or without permissions for staying and residing in the country,in short who haveproblems with documents and don’t obey the rules envisaged by the legislation while being employed, by thinking that their work is seasonal.After all, security is reliable protection of existence of person, society, state and their vital interests.
Every state tries to gain reliable guarantee for its national interests and economic security by implementing different, multilateral domestic and foreign policy. The provision of human and civil rights and freedoms is determined as supreme purpose of the state in Article 12 of Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan. In accordance with this norm we can mention that, the protection of rights of foreigners and stateless persons – migrants is one of the priorities of the Republic of Azerbaijan. For instance, according to Migration Code, work permit is not required from persons married with the citizen of the Republic of Azerbaijan, submitted application for obtaining refugee status, obtained refugee status or granted political asylum, as well as, foreigners and stateless persons having in their custody citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan who are under the age of 18 or I group disabled person. Moreover, as you know in order to get or extend the validity of work permit for paid labor activity employers should pay state fee determined by the legislation of the Republic of Azerbaijan. According to May 16, 2014 dated amendments to the Law on “State Fee”, now various amount of state fees are determined depending on its validity period, this number was the same up to one year period in the past. Or according to amendments to the abovementioned Law, state fee for people under the age of 18 for issuance of decision on extension of temporary staying period, permission card for temporary residence or extension of its period in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan is determined as 50 % of fee defined for adult foreigners and stateless persons. All of this is an example of implementation of principles determined as a supreme goal of the state, at high level.
The number of people wishing to live, work, study in Azerbaijan, especially to be the citizen of Azerbaijan, which has become leader state of the regiondue to development strategy founded by Great Leader HeydarAliyev, increases year by year. It should be noted that the main purpose of the May 30, 2014 amendments to the Law on “Citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan” is to invite the citizen to be responsible in relation with state.
As you know the State Migration Service follows the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, laws of the Republic of Azerbaijan, decrees and orders of the President, Migration Code, decrees and orders of the Cabinet of Ministers, international agreements that the Republic of Azerbaijan is a party to and organizes its activities on the principles of respect to human and citizen rights and freedoms, rule of law and humanism.
- What are the novelties in terms of improvement of migration legislation? We would like you to clear up the points that make necessary these amendments to Migration Code.
- The legislation in migration sphere has been considerably improved in recent years. Generally, one of the purposes of development of the migration legislation is to simplify relevant procedures regulated by those legal acts, apply of innovative methods in regulation of migration processes and to ensure transparency.
According to Migration Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan, registration upon place of stay of foreigners and stateless persons, grounds and periods for their residencein the territory of the country, their temporary and permanent residence were defined, registration system of foreigners and stateless persons was improved, measures for restoration and acquisition of citizenship of the Republic of Azerbaijan were determined, responsibility for violation of migration legislation was increased.
The principle of equality of foreigners and stateless persons before the law and court, according to principles generally recognized international legal norms and Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan was stated once again in the Migration Code.
It is directly emphasized in the Code that “Foreigners and stateless persons are equal before the law and courts of the Republic of Azerbaijan regardless of their property, social conditions, race, nationality, gender, language, religion, type and character of his/her activity and other cases”. This provision creates suitable condition for the protection of violated rights of foreigners and stateless persons in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Although the provisions about testing of foreigners and stateless persons’ knowledge on their rights and obligations, as well as official language new,I would like to emphasize once again that it has a significant role in terms of integration of foreigners to the Azerbaijan society. Relevant measures in this sphere have been already taken by the State Migration Service. The meetings with members of society and foreigners at some high schools of the country and regional migration departments of the State Migration Service in the districts also, have a great importance. Because, regular migration is accepted as a factor that will give positive contribution to the development of both countries of origin and destination. The majority of migrantsexcept crisis resulted from wars and natural disasters are labor migrants.
The law regulates public relations emerged in community, in this situation the development of society, evolution of public relations necessitate the improvement of legal norms that regulates it. We should review amendments to Migration Code from this context. One of the last amendments to the Code is an extension of period determined for registration of foreigners and stateless persons upon place of stay from 3 days to 10 days. I can say that it is an obvious example of value given to humanism principles personally by the president of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev that such a legislative initiative was put forward and adopted in order to provide convenience of foreign citizens, as well as stateless persons and parties receiving them. Generally, the amendments to Migration Code based on respect to human and civil rights and freedoms, as well as humanism principlestherefore this step was welcomed by society and foreigners.
- What kind of measures are taken by State Migration Service in order to prevent foreigners to become illegal migrants, what kind of public awareness activities are carried out and do these information reach to target groups?
- Public awareness activities are carried out regularly by State Migration Service through mass media regarding with migration processes, the importance of registration of foreigners upon place of stay in the period envisaged by the legislation, labor migration, especially issues reflected in “International Convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families” and issues envisaged by the legislation. For example, only this year articles, interviews, comments given to State Telegraph Agency of Azerbaijan (AzerTac) on different themes concerning migration were published in electronic and periodical media and placed in official website of the Service.
In order to increase public awareness a number of short video clips and presentations about registration upon place of stay of foreigners and stateless persons visiting the Republic of Azerbaijan, issuance of permit for temporary residence and illegal migration, as well as film dedicated to the results of activities of State Migration Service in 2013 were prepared in the current year. The abovementioned film was demonstrated in Public Television. Video clips and presentations on increasing of the public awareness of society and foreigners were regularly broadcasted all the year round. These materials were placed appropriately in the official website of the Service as well.
Furthermore, informational materials about registration upon place of stay were sent to the Ministry of Transport, “Azerbaijan Airlines”, “Azerbaijan Caspian Shipping”, “Azerbaijan Railways” Closed Joint – Stock Company, as well as regular broadcasting through Intelligent Transport Management Center at bus stations of city, box office of Azerbaijan Railways station, passenger ships, newly opened air – terminal of HeydarAliyev International Airport, and announcement by hostesses were organized. Another film about procedures of issuance of work permit and rules of involving foreign labor force to paid labor activity was prepared as well.
The booklets reflecting the rules of registration of foreigners and stateless persons upon place of stay, permission for temporary and permanent residence, work permit extension of temporary staying period were published. As a part of public awareness and information activities in order to prevent foreign guests to become illegal migrants. Moreover beginning from this year distribution of leaflets, flyers in different languages and forms to foreigners and stateless persons visiting our country has been organized at the border checkpoints of the republic. I would like to mention that one of the amendments to legislation is about the issuance of those notifications. Now the Item 1 of Article 21of the Migration Code has been amended to read as follows:“Foreigners and stateless persons temporarily staying in the Republic of Azerbaijan for more than 10 days should get registered upon place of stay. (The relevant notification in Azerbaijani, Russian and English are given to foreigners and stateless persons entering to the country at the checkpoints of state border)”.
The dynamics of the number of applicants for registration upon place of stay proves that public awareness activities reach the target groups as you mentioned.
- The year 2014 is already over. What do you think, how can the State Migration Service overcome set forth tasks? How can you summarize this year?
- The 2014 was quite successful year for our republic. This success covered economic, political, social, energy projects and other fields. TAP, TANAP projects and Baku – Tbilisi – Kars railway that will be opened next year has a great importance for the region and world countries, including Europe. Moreover, the world’s most influential economic structure, the Davos World Economic Forum, ranks Azerbaijan in 38th place in terms of competitiveness. This is a great achievement, for a country newly gained independence as mentioned by Mr. President.
When it comes to overcoming set forth tasks, the development of migration management mechanism, increasing efficiency of state regulation in this field, coordination of relevant state agencies’ activities in migration sphere, enhancement of existing legislative base, application of quotes on labor migration, implementation of complex measures for prevention of illegal migration, as well as cooperation with migration agencies of other states and international organizations are considered as activity directions in“The State Migration Program of the Republic of Azerbaijan” (2006-2008) approved by the Order of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated from July 25, 2006. It is a gratifying case that, the State Migration Service is trying to overcome set forth tasks and justify confidence. Because State Migration Service always learns international practice and expands international relations. Twinning project which is funded in the framework of European Union’s Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument program is an example of this.
I would like to mention that on February 28, 2014 an agreement on readmission of persons residing without authorization was signed between the Republic of Azerbaijan and European Union. The European Parliament ratified the agreements on readmission and visa facilitation between Azerbaijan and European Union. The Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan on “Readmission of persons residing without authorization between the Republic of Azerbaijan and European Union” has already entered into force.
Regarding migration processes of the tolerant country which has strong, stable economy and security of which is highly protected I can say that works on implementation of duties of Service are successfully continued. Serving foreigners visiting our country, looking after them, fighting against illegal migration by using all the power of law is an official duty of every migration employee. More than eight hundred thousand applications only on registration upon place of stay were received by the Service during the eleven month of this year. In addition, a significant amount of applications by foreigners and stateless persons for extension of temporary staying period, issuance of permissions on temporary and permanent residence, acquisition, restoration, revocation of citizenship, as well as granting work permits and extension of its period in order to implement labor activity and it is not easy as it sounds to reply so much applications.
As the head of our state Ilham Aliyev said, “Of course, we open our doors to all guests. But everything should be in the frame of law. The serious measures should be taken in order to fight against illegal migration. Visitors came in order to work in Azerbaijan, should respect to our legislation, national values and traditions.In this case, all the condition for residence of foreign citizens visiting Azerbaijan will be created”.
It is true that, some restrictions about migration policy may not satisfy somebody. For instance, one of the tasks set before the agency is carrying out inspections in work places of labor migrants, to investigate if they have relevant status and work permit, to take measures according to rules envisaged by the legislation. But we shouldn’t forget that management of migration processes is regulated with laws of Azerbaijan adoptedto international Conventions. To obey these laws is not only a duty of citizens of Azerbaijan, but also every foreigner crossing the border of this country. Because migration process is an issue directly connected with national and economic security of Azerbaijan.
I would like to note that, as a result of inspections carried out during the eleven month by the Service in more than two hundred entrepreneurial subjects, infringement of administrative law were revealedapproximately in 150 of them.Revealed administrative infringement cases are investigatedand relevant decisions are made according to rules envisaged by the legislation.
During the past period of this year more than 35 thousand cases concerning infringement of requirements of administrative legislation by foreigners and stateless persons have been revealed.Residence of 3172 of them in the country was legalized, decisions were made on 25 822 foreigners to leave the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 48 hours in a way envisaged by the regulations of Administrative Offences Code and on 6065 foreigners to be removed in administrative order from the country.Lost documents of 179 foreigners for temporary or permanent residence were replaced with new ones.
In addition, in order to ensure implementation of the relevant Orders of the head of our state about “National Action Plan for Promotion of Open Government for the years 2012 – 2015” and “National Action Plan to combat corruption for the years 2012 – 2015”, the implementation of action plans prepared by State Migration Service are being continued.
Another issue in Service life that I would like to mention, is test exam for recruitment to migration bodies was held in clear and transparent condition together with the State Students Admission Commission (SSAC), according to requirements of the Regulation on “Service in migration bodies” approved with №930 – IIIQ Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated from December 4, 2009 and the Regulation on “The rules of carrying out test exam and interview with candidates intending to be recruited to migration bodies” approved with №305 Decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated from July 15, 2010. The 63 of 309 candidates participated in test exam achieved success and the most decent ones of them available for vacancies recruited to migration bodies.
The State Migration Service, 80 percent of employees of which consist of youths, besides being agency implementingthe state policy in the sphere of migration and relevant duties envisaged by the legislation of the Republic of Azerbaijan on management and regulation of migration processes, also will try successfully fulfill its duties as a service agency and prove trust shown by the President of our country, Commander – in – Chief Ilham Aliyev.