Alongside police, secret police and State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations, a growing role in raids on religious communities and prosecutions seems to be played by Religious Affairs Commissions attached to local administrations. Fines of three months’ average wages often follow raids.
In 2017, officials of at least four state agencies have continued to raid and help punish individuals for exercising freedom of religion or belief. Alongside the police, State Security Service (SSS) secret police and State Committee for Work with Religious Organisations, a growing role in raids and prosecutions seems to be played by Religious Affairs Commissions attached to city or district administrations.
Joint raids by officials of the State Committee, the SSS secret police and the Religious Affairs Commission attached to the administration of Baku’s Binaqadi District saw leaders of two mosques fined in November for violating the country’s strict controls on who is allowed to conduct religious activities and where (see below).
Many Muslims and Jehovah’s Witnesses have been fined in 2017 for meeting for worship or religious study, or for offering religious literature without specific state permission. Court bailiffs are also insisting that a Baptist fined in December 2016, but never given a written court decision, pay his fine by the end of 2017. Another Baptist fined with him is still trying to overturn his punishment, with his case now at the Supreme Court.