Energy-rich Azerbaijan is becoming a regional magnet for illegal labor migrants. The government is intent on containing the trend, but a recent Constitutional Court decision to overturn stiff fines for employing illegal migrants is injecting an element of uncertainty into the issue.
In 2009, officials in Baku imposed stiff fines, ranging from 30,000 to 35,000 manats (about $37,000 to $43,000) per undocumented worker, in an attempt to curb illegal migration. But on December 18, Azerbaijan’s Constitutional Court annulled these penalties. The ruling, which will go into effect on June 1, merely stated that the government’s fines violated “the principle of justice.”
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Shahin Abbasov is a freelance reporter based in Baku. He is also a board member of the Open Society Assistance Foundation - Azerbaijan.