Azerbaijani Journalist Afgan Sadikhov in Pre-trial Detention

Update: 27 Nov 2018 No state reply yet
Year 15 Dec 2016 Country Azerbaijan Category Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner Article 19 , AEJ , CPJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 1
15 Dec 2016 Azerbaijan Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Article 19 , AEJ , CPJ , Index , RSF Level 1
No state reply yet

On 22 November 2016, police arrested Afgan Sadikhov, a journalist and editor-in-chief of AzelTV news website, known for his reporting on embezzlement of public funds. Sadikhov was arrested in Gazakh region and was later transferred to Jalilabad city, where the Jalilabad District Court sentenced him to three month’s pre-trial detention on charges of “deliberate infliction of minor harm to health in a publicly dangerous way or through motives of hooliganism” under article 127.2.3 of the Criminal Code. Sadikhov faces up to five years in prison if convicted. The charges stem from an incident that occurred shortly before Sadhikov’s arrest. According to Sadikhov's family, he was summoned to meet with the local authorities, but on arriving at the spot was physically attacked by a local woman, who then filed a complaint to the law-enforcement against him. The woman has been previously involved in a number of similar altercations with individuals known for their criticism of regional authorities. Sadikhov wrote extensively about the poor conditions of roads and social infrastructure in Jalilabad region. According to his mother, prior to his arrest Sadikhov received several warnings demanding he stop his criticism. Alert : 1 detention

Updates

27 Nov 2018 : On 27 November 2018, Afgan Sadikhov was arrested for 30 days on the basis of an administrative order from the Sabail District Court. He was found guilty under the Article 535.1 (non-subordination to the police) of the Code of Administrative Offenses.
26 Jul 2018 : On 23 May 2018, Afgan Sadikov was released from prison and on 7 July 2018 placed under "administrative detention" for 30 days. At the end of his administrative detention, he was released and is currently free.
13 Nov 2017 : On 8 November 2017, the Supreme Court held Afgan Sadikhov's appeal hearing and ruled to reduce his jail term to one year and six months by changing the original charges brought against him.
25 May 2017 : On 25 May 2017, the Shirvan Court of Appeal rejected Sadikhov`s request for appeal.
09 Mar 2017 : On 9 March 2017, the head of the Jalilabad District filed a lawsuit against Sadikhov for aggravated defamation.
12 Jan 2017 : On 12 January 2017, the District Court of Jalilabad sentenced Afgan Sadikhov to 2 years and 6 months in prison on hooliganism charges.

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20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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