Today the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muižnieks made two new public contributions to the European Court of Human Rights concerning the cases of human rights defenders Rasul Jafarov and Anar Mammadli.
Following the amicus curiae submissions on the cases of Hilal Mammadov and Intigam Aliyev, today's interventions further illustrate the serious and systemic human rights problems faced in Azerbaijan by journalists, lawyers and rights activists who are often subject to reprisals and judicial harassement.
This is third and fouth intervention at the European Court of Human Rights by the Commissioner Muižnieks. The next written contritbuions are going to be made on the cases of Leyla and Arif Yunus.
In his written contribution, Muižnieks concludes, "The situation of human rights defenders in Azerbaijan is of great concern to the Commissioner. Reprisals, including judicial harassment, against critical voices in general, and those denouncing human rights violations in the country in particular, is a widespread phenomenon in Azerbaijan, to which the Commissioner has repeatedly attempted to bring the attention of the authorities in his reports and interventions."
The Commissioner further adds that, "there is a tendendy among Azerbaijani authorities to rely on the Court to rectify the shortcomings of the national judicial procedures."
"There is a clear pattern of repression in Azerbaijan against those expressing dissent orcriticism of the authorities. This concerns particularly human rights defenders, but also journalists, bloggers and other activists, who may face a variety of criminal charges which defy credibility. Such charges are largely seen as an attempt to silence the persons concerned and are closely linked to the legitimate exercise by them of their right to freedom of expression."
Rasul Jafarov is a human rigths activist. He was detained August 2 on suspicion of tax evasion, illegal entrepreneurship, and abuse of authority.
Anar Mammadli, the chairman of an independent election observation organization Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center was arrested in December 2013 and sentenced on May 26, 2014 to 5.5 years on charges of appropriation, illegal enterpreneurship, tax evasion and abuse of authority.