Leyla and her husband Arif have long fought for human rights and the rights of ethnic minorities in Azerbaijan and the couple are internationally recognised human rights defenders. They were arrested on July 30, 2014 on charges of “treason”, “large-scale fraud”, “forgery”, “tax evasion”, and “illegal business” in an effort to silence their human rights activities. On August 13, 2015, after a flawed trial, Leyla and Arif Yunus were sentenced to 8.5 and 7 years in jail respectively. On November 12, Arif Yunusov was conditionally released by the Baku Grave Crimes Court due to health conditions. Yesterday, the Baku Grave Crimes Court also commuted his sentence to a probation for 5 years.
FIDH has fought a tireless campaign, notably through the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, to secure their release alongside a series of advocacy actions in international fora such as the European Union, the United Nations and the Council of Europe, initiating a series of resolutions calling for their unconditional release.
Despite their release, they still face charges of treason and their legal situation remains unchanged. FIDH will continue to campaign until all charges are dropped against both Leyla and Arif Yunus and their full rights restored.
FIDH also calls for the unconditional release of all other human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Azerbaijan, such as Khadija Ismailova, Intigam Aliyev, Rasul Jafarov, Anar Mammadli, Hilal Mammadov and Rauf Mirqadirov.