Azerbaijan Toughens Penalties for Religious Extremism

Today the Milli Majlis adopted amendments to the Criminal Code, providing for tougher measures of responsibility for violation of the provisions of the law "On freedom of religion" and religious extremism.

Article 278.2 of the Criminal Code has been amended, according to which for actions based on religious hatred, religious radicalism and fanaticism, aimed at the seizure of power and division of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity there is a penalty of imprisonment for a term of 15 to 20 years or life imprisonment.

The Criminal Code also has included an article 167-1.4, according to which a person compelling others to profess any religion (religious movement) on the grounds of religious hatred, radicalism and fanaticism, including performance of religious rites and ceremonies or participation in religious rites and ceremonies, is punished by a fine in the amount of 7-9 thousand manat or imprisonment from 2 to 5 years.

The amendments to the criminal law shall also provide for a fine of 8-11 thousand manat or imprisonment from 2 to 5 years for the manufacture, storage and distribution of materials calling for religious extremism.

The same sentence is necessary, according to the new article 167-3, for the financing of manufacturing, storage and distribution of religious materials of extremist nature.

According to another new article 279.1-1, creation of armed groups and groups motivated by religious hatred, fanaticism and radicalism, or participation in the activities of such groups will be punished with imprisonment for a term of 6 to 10 years.

The incitement of national, racial, social or religious hatred and enmity, as well as funding for such actions will be punished by a prison sentence of 3 to 5 years on Article 283.1-1 supplemented to the Criminal Code. -06D--

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