Azerbaijan: Sentencing to five years in prison of Mr. Hilal Mammadov

Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the sentencing to five years in prison of Mr. Hilal Mammadov, a minority rights defender and Editor-in-chief of the Tolishi-Sado (Voice of Talysh) newspaper[1] who has been detained since June 21, 2012.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Azerbaijan.

New information:

According to the information received, on September 27, 2013, Mr. Hilal Mammadov was sentenced to five years in prison in a semi-closed trial at the Baku Grave Crimes Court. He was convicted of "illegal selling of drugs", "high treason" and "incitement to national, racial, social and religious hatred and hostility", under Articles 234.4.3, 274 and 283 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan respectively.

As of October 2, 2013, Mr. Hilal Mammadov remained detained at the Baku Investigation Isolator.

The Observatory firmly condemns the conviction of Mr. Hilal Mammadov, and considers it as another attempt to silence his efforts to report human rights violations and defend minority rights in his country.

The Observatory therefore reiterates its calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against Mr. Mammadov and release him, as such practices seem to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities.

Background information:

On June 21, 2012, Mr. Hilal Mammadov was arrested in relation to a criminal case opened against him by the Nasimi District Police under Article 234.4.3 of the Criminal CodeThe authorities alleged having seized five grams of heroin from him and about 30 grams at his place of residence. On June 22, 2012, the Nasimi District Court sentenced Mr. Mammadov to three months of pre-trial detention.

On the same day, Mr. Mammadov met with his lawyer, who discovered and photographed injuries on his leg, and subsequently lodged a complaint for torture.

On July 4, 2012, the accusations of illegal possession of drugs were contradicted by a joint statement of the Interior Ministry and Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan, which stated that Mr. Mammadov was in reality arrested on the basis of information about his supposed “cooperation with the intelligence agency of a foreign country”, “activities against the security and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan”, as well as “incitement of national, racial and religious hatred”. According to the authors of the statement, Mr. Mammadov supposedly became an agent of foreign secret services 20 years ago.

On July 4, 2012, new trumped-up charges were brought against Mr. Mammadov under Articles 274 and 283.2.2 of the Criminal Code. The investigators confiscated as evidence a notebook computer as well as drives containing information. The criminal case launched against him by the Nasimi District Prosecutor’s Office was transferred to the Grave Crimes Investigation Department, under the General Prosecutor’s Office.

On July 31, 2012, the Nasimi District Court of Baku City denied the complaint that Mr. Mammadov had filed to denounce acts of torture and ill-treatment he had suffered. On August 29, 2012, the Nasimi District Court further rejected the appeal that Mr. Mammadov’s lawyers had filed against the July-31 decision. On August 27, 2012, the Deputy General Prosecutor refused as well to open proceedings on the complaint lodged against the acts of torture and ill-treatment Mr. Mammadov suffered during the first days of his detention.

Again, on November 8, 2012, the Sabail District Court rejected a complaint filed by Mr. Mammadov and based on a forensic examination, denouncing the acts of torture and ill-treatment he suffered in the framework of his arrest. This decision was upheld by a higher tribunal on November 19, 2012.

In September 2012, the Baku Appeals Court denied him provisional release.

Furthermore, on November 26, 28 and 29, 2012, Mr. Mammadov was beaten and injured by his mentally ill cell mate in a Kurdakhani prison. As his cell mate’s behaviour was aggressive, Mr. Mammadov’s lawyers requested on several occasions before the attack to remove him from the cell, but their requests were all ignored. On November 29, his cell mate was eventually transferred to the medical unit of the prison hospital for treatment.

On December 21, 2012, the criminal case file on Mr. Mammadov was transferred to the Court on Grave Crimes for trial. During the first hearing, on January 9, 2013, Mr. Hilal Mammadov’s lawyer submitted two motions requesting the audio- and video-tape of the hearing, and that his client be allowed to sit outside of the court cage, together with his lawyer. However, both motions were rejected.

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities in Azerbaijan, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Hilal Mammadov as well as of all human rights defenders in Azerbaijan;

ii. Release Mr. Hilal Mammadov immediately and unconditionally as his detention is arbitrary since it only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;

iii. Order an immediate, thorough, transparent investigation into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment against Mr. Hilal Mammadov, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and apply them the sanctions provided by the law;

iv. Put an end to any kind of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Hilal Mammadov and more generally against all human rights defenders in Azerbaijan;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as its Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Azerbaijan.


· Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Office of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, 19 Istiqlaliyyat St., Baku AZ1066, Azerbaijan, Fax: (+994) 12 492 06 25, (+994) 412 92 28 68, E-mail:,

· Prosecutor’s Office, 7 Nigar Rafibeyli St., Baku, Azerbaijan, Fax: (+994) 12 492 06 82, (+994) 12 492 26 63, E-mail:

· Mr. Ramil Usubov, Minister of Internal Affairs of the Azerbaijani Republic, Fax: (+994) 12 492 45 90

· Mr. Fikrat F. Mammadov, Minister of Justice in Azerbaijan, Inshaatchilar Prospekti, 1 Baku, Azerbaijan, e-mail:,; Fax (+994) 12 430 09 81

· Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the United Nations in Geneva, Route des Fayards 237, CH-1290 Versoix, Switzerland, E-mail: Fax: (+41) 22 901 18 44

· Azerbaijani Embassy in Brussels, Avenue Moliere, 464, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: (+32) 2 345 91 85

Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Azerbaijan in your respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassies in Azerbaijan.


Geneva-Paris, October 3, 2013

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

[1] The Talysh people are an ethnic minority living in the south of Azerbaijan.

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