Azerbaijani Journalist Elchin Ismayilli Sentenced to 9 year in Prison

Update: 20 Nov 2018 No state reply yet
Year 23 Feb 2017 Country Azerbaijan Category Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner Article 19 , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 1
23 Feb 2017 Azerbaijan Detention and imprisonment of journalists State Article 19 , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 1
No state reply yet

On 17 February 2017, Elchin Ismayilli, founder and editor of Kend.info, an on-line news portal known for its reporting on corruption and human rights violations in the Ismayilli region of Azerbaijan, was detained by police. He is accused of threatening a local government employee, and has been charged with extortion and abuse of a position of influence. Ismayilli denies all the charges. On 18 February, the Nasimi District court sentenced Ismayilli to pre-trial detention for an initial period of 24 days. Ismayilli is currently being held in the Kurdakhani pretrial detention centre. Alert : 1 detention

Updates

20 Nov 2018 : On 20 November 2018, considering the cassation appeal of journalist Elchin Ismayilli, the Supreme Court reduced his term of imprisonment from 9 to 7 years, dropping the charges under Art. 308 (abuse of power) and 311. (receiving a bribe) of the Criminal Code.
20 Dec 2017 : Elchin Ismayilli's appeal was rejected by Appeal Court in Baku later in 2017.
18 Sep 2017 : On 18 September 2017, the Sheki Court for Grave Crimes sentenced Elchin Ismayilli to 9 years imprisonment. The court found him guilty under articles 182 (extortion of money by threats), 308 (abuse of office) and 311 (bribery) of the Criminal Code.
03 Aug 2017 : Elchin Ismaylli`s preliminary investigation ended on 3 August 2017, but new charges of bribery were brought against him. He is now facing a jail sentence from 8 to 12 years.
03 Mar 2017 : On 3 March 2017 Elchin Ismaylli`s pre-trial detention time was extended to three more months.

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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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