Today, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižnieks, published written observations submitted to the European Court of Human Rights on the case of Hilal Mammadov against Azerbaijan, in which he stresses the systematic deficiencies in the area of freedom of expression, including judicial harassment of critical voices, and a pattern of retaliatory measures against those who co-operate with international organisations to expose human rights violations in the country.
“The case of Hilal Mammadov, whom I met in 2012 and 2013 in a pre-trial detention centre, is emblematic of the reprisals that journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders face in Azerbaijan because of their work. They are often harassed with unjustified or selective criminal prosecution on charges that defy credibility, a structural problem which both affects the human rights of the persons concerned and obstructs the functioning of international human rights mechanisms. It is high time that Azerbaijan complies with its obligations and restores a climate in which dissent can be expressed without fear of repression.”
Third party interventions represent an additional tool at the Commissioner’s disposal to help promote and protect human rights. They are foreseen by the European Convention on Human Rights and are based on the Commissioner’s country and thematic activities. These observations do not include any comments on the facts or merits of the case, but provide objective and impartial information to the Court on aspects of concern to the Commissioner.
Today’s intervention is the first of five that the Commissioner will submit regarding Azerbaijan. The next ones will concern the cases of Intigam Aliyev, Rasul Jafarov, Anar Mammadli and Leyla and Arif Yunus.
The Commissioner has visited Azerbaijan in November 2012, May 2013 and October 2014 recommending improving respect for freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of association.