October 9, the International Bar Association presented jailed Azerbaijani lawyer Intigam Aliyev with its 2015 Human Rights Award. He was nominated earlier this year by Freedom Now, Human Rights House Foundation and Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights.
His two chidren, Narmin and Necmin Kamilsoy were there on Intigam Aliyev's behalf to accept the award.
The award is well-deserved recognition of Mr. Aliyev and his valuable role in promoting human rights and rule of law in Azerbaijan for more than two decades.
The award places Mr. Aliyev in the company of other eminent human rights lawyers, including Abdolfattah Soltani and George Bizos said the Freedom Now press statement.
Mr. Soltani, is a human rights lawyer currently serving a 13 year prison sentence on national security-related charges in Iran.
Mr. Bizos is a lawyer in South Africa who represented many anti-apartheid activists, including Nelson Mandela.
The children, read a letter written by Intigam Aliyev. "When I heard about this prestigious Award, I felt honor and happiness with sadness at the same time. Today, in my country, my friends, colleagues, conscientious people, are facing prosecutions, pressures, and imprisonments. They deserve this award at least as much as I do. Therefore, I am accepting this award on behalf of them. I share my deep gratitude with the IBA for appreciating my efforts in such a way, as well as with all organizations that nominated me for this award", wrote Mr. Aliyev.
Freedom Now Executive Director Maran Turner said, "It is an acknowledgement of Intigam's tireless commitment to human rights and his unbroken resolve in the face of efforts by the Azerbaijani government to break him."
Mr. Aliyev is Azerbaijan's most prominent human rights lawyer. He is the president of the Legal Education Society, an organization founded in 1998 to provide legal assistance to marginalized populations and civil society organizations in Azerbaijan, engage in strategic litigation, and train lawyers.
Mr. Aliyev has represented numerous activists and human rights defenders prosecuted by the Azerbaijan government.
After his right to practice law in domestic courts was revoked, Mr. Aliyev turned to international courts and mechanisms. He has frequently submitted petitions to the European Court of Human Rights and, so far, the Court has ruled in favor of his clients in 17 cases.
Intigam Aliyev's son, in his personal statement said, "This award was a very important message of solidarity and recognition of the work of my father. With this award he knows that he is not alone and it only makes him stronger in these very difficult times".
In an interview with AzadliqRadiosu, Necmin and Narmin shared their pride in accepting this award on their father's behalf. "Of course it is an honor to accept this award on behalf of our father. But at the same time, it saddens us, because he could not be here himself to accept the award he was honored with. This award ceremony is one of the biggest gatherings of the community of lawmakers and practicioners. There are lawyers from all over the world who know about him and other political prisoners. Even if he is in prison, his successes will continue. And we will always proudly stand by his side".
Intigam Aliyev was arrested on August 8, 2014. He was charged with illegal business activity, tax evasion, abuse of office, forgery, and embezzlement. All charges were seen as politically motivated aimed to halt his work as human rights lawyer.
On April 22, 2015, he was found guilty on the charges above and was sentenced to seven years and six months in prison.
The trial was widely marred by irregularities, including attempts by the court to bar independent observers from attending the proceedings and the withholding of key pieces of evidence introduced by the prosecution and relied on by the court.
Mr. Aliyev has also been denied proper medical treatment during his detention and suffers from several serious health conditions, including spinal problems which inhibit his movement and cause severe pain.