In the case of Gahramanli and others v. Azerbaijan (application no. 36503/11) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, there had been clear violation of Article 3 of Protocol No.1 (right to free elections) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The case involved complaints brought by three Azerbaijani nationals, Mr Fuad Ali oglu Gahramanli (Fuad Əli oğlu Qəhrəmanlı), Mr Zalimkhan Adil oglu Mammadli (Zəlimxan Adil oğlu Məmmədli) and Mr Namizad Heydar oglu Safarov (Namizəd Heydər oğlu Səfərov) (“the applicants”), on 1 June 2011. They have complained that the election in their electoral constituency had not been free and fair owing to numerous instances of electoral fraud and that their right to stand for election had been infringed due to the relevant authorities’ failure to effectively address their complaints concerning election irregularities.
The Court found that the applicants' serious and arguable complaints, based on electoral observers' first-hand accounts of alleged irregularities, had not been effectively addressed at domestic level either by the electoral commissions or by the courts.
The Court in the applicants' case revealed an apparent lack of any genuine concern for combatting allegations of electoral fraud and protecting the applicants' right to stand for election.
The Court also poitned out that it was now up for the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers to follow up on the implementation of change to Azerbaijan's electoral administration aimed at improving the effectiveness of the examination of individual election-related complaints.
The Court concluded that:
- the respondent State is to pay the applicants, within three months from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, the following amounts, to be converted into Azerbaijani new manats at the rate applicable at the date of settlement:
(i) EUR 10,000 (ten thousand euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable, to each applicant, in respect of non-pecuniary damage;
(ii) EUR 850 (eight hundred and fifty euros), plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicants, to all three applicants jointly, in respect of costs and expenses;
- from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points.
Azerbaijan's next elections are scheduled to take place November 1.