Israeli-Russian Blogger Aleksandr Lapshin to Be Tried in Azerbaijan

No state reply yet Progress
Year 07 Mar 2017 Country Azerbaijan Category Detention and imprisonment of journalists Source of threat State Partner CPJ , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index Alert level Level 1
07 Mar 2017 Azerbaijan Detention and imprisonment of journalists State CPJ , AEJ , EFJ/IFJ , Index Level 1
No state reply yet

Aleksandr Lapshin, an Israeli-Russian travel blogger, was detained in Minsk, Belarus, on 15 December 2016, at the request from Azerbaijan and extradited to Baku on 7 February 2017. Lapshin faces a maximum sentence of eight years in prison on charges of illegally crossing Azerbaijan's state borders during his April 2011, October 2012, and June 2016 visits to Nagorno-Karabakh, and for making "anti-state calls to the public" and criticizing Azerbaijani policies. Currently, Alexander Lapshin is in the Kurdakhani Pre-trial Detention Centre of the Baku Investigative Prison Nr 1.

Progress On 11 September 2017 Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev pardoned Aleksandr Lapshin. EFJ/IFJ statement: "Azerbaijan: EFJ/IFJ welcome release of Mehman Aliyev and Alexander Lapshin"

Updates

28 Mar 2018 : In February 2018, Lapshin filed an application against Azerbaijan at the ECtHR.
14 Sep 2017 : On 14 September 2017, Alexander Lapshin left Azerbaijan.
20 Jul 2017 : On 20 July, Aleksandr Lapshin was sentenced to 3 years in prison by the Baku Court of Grave Crimes.

Follow-ups

11 Sep 2017 : OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media welcomes the pardon and release of Aleksandr Lapshin.

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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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