Azerbaijan: Rasul Jafarov finally acquitted!

24/04/2020
Press release

Paris, Geneva, April 24, 2020 – Yesterday, the Azerbaijan Supreme Court acquitted prominent human rights defender Rasul Jafarov of all charges. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT) welcomes this acquittal and reiterates that Jafarov should never have been convicted and sentenced in the first place for his legitimate human rights activities and that other human rights defenders should also be acquitted and rehabilitated.

On April 23, 2020, Azerbaijan Supreme Court acquitted Mr. Rasul Jafarov, human rights lawyer and Head of FIDH member organization the “Human Rights Club”, as well as opposition politician Ilgar Mammadov, of all the criminal charges pending against them, overturning their convictions by local courts, which were later upheld by higher courts. The Supreme Court additionally ruled that the Azerbaijani government had to compensate Mr. Jafarov 57,400 AZN (approximately 30,600 Euros) for his illegal and arbitrary detention.

« Long overdue, this ruling is most welcome! Justice has been done. But we should not forget all the other human rights defenders who are still awaiting justice, such as Mr. Intigam Aliyev and Anar Mammadli»

Tolekan Ismailova, FIDH Vice President.

“We are also waiting for the release of all the political prisoners in Azerbaijan”. said Tolekan Ismailova, FIDH Vice President.

This ruling follows a decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) (Rasul Jafarov v. Azerbaijan) from July 4, 2016, which stated that the arrest and detention of Mr. Jafarov had taken place in the absence of any reasonable suspicion that he had committed an offense, and that the underlying purpose of his arrest was to punish him for his human rights activities. The ECtHR also ruled that the State had to financially compensate Mr. Jafarov for the damages suffered as well as his legal costs.

“The decision of the Supreme Court’s Plenum demonstrates that the European Convention of Human Rights is truly an integral part of the Azerbaijani legislation and judgements of the European Court of Human Rights should be executed in the framework of this legislation as well as international law” , said Mr. Rasul Jafarov.

« Other unimplemented judgements of the ECtHR should be immediately executed, such as those pertaining to the Ilgar Mammadov series of cases.»

TMr. Rasul Jafarov

“This ruling is a rare good news in a country that has such a bad record of implementing ECtHR decisions. We hope that it will come with the end of the judicial harassment of all human rights defenders in Azerbaijan” , added Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).

Rasul Jafarov was arrested as part of a crackdown on civil society and human rights defenders in 2014. He was arrested on August 2, 2014, on charges of “illegal entrepreneurship” (Article 192 of the Criminal Code), “tax evasion” (Article 213) and “abuse of office” (Article 308). His detention term was then extended by three months in October 2014. On December 12, 2014, additional charges were brought against him under Articles 179.3.2 (“embezzlement allegedly causing damage to third parties identified as “victims” by the investigative body”) and 313 (“service forgery”). On April 16, 2015, Baku Grave Crimes Court sentenced Mr. Jafarov to 6,5 years in prison in a trial that was clearly based on trumped-up charges, according to an Observatory trial observation report. Mr. Jafarov was pardoned by the President of Azerbaijan on March 17, 2016, and eventually released.

For further information, please contact:
· FIDH: Mr. Samuel Hanryon (English, French), +33 6 72 28 42 94 (Paris)
· OMCT: Ms. Iolanda Jaquemet (English, French), +41 79 539 41 06 / Email : ij@omct.org (Geneva)

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

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