12 Dec 2019 Lvl. 1
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Alert created on: 02 Nov 2017 n° 124/2017 Azerbaijan

Continued Impunity for Murder of Azerbaijani journalist Rafiq Tagi

Source of threatUnknown
CategoryImpunity for murder
Partner Article 19 EFJ/IFJ Index IPI
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Partner Article 19 EFJ/IFJ Index IPI
To mark the upcoming International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, Article 19 and IPI, submit an alert regarding the ongoing impunity for the murder of Azerbaijani freelance journalist Rafiq Tagi in Baku in November 2011. Tagi, who contributed to Radio Free Europe’s Azerbaijani Service and was well-known for his criticism of Islam and the Azerbaijani authorities, died in hospital on 23 November 2011. He was receiving treatment having been stabbed in Baku on 19 November by an unknown assailant. During an interview on 21 November, Tagi suggested the attack could have been related to his criticism of the Iranian authorities for their theologically based policies and suppression of human rights in an article published the previous month. Previously, in November 2006, a prominent Iranian cleric had issued a religious fatwa calling for Tagi’s death.

The Azerbaijani authorities have failed to adequately investigate both the circumstances of the initial attack and Tagi’s subsequent death, and no perpetrator has been brought to justice. In January 2014, Elcin Sadyqov, Tagi’s lawyer, reported that the Azerbaijani Prosecutor-General's Office had informed him in writing that the probe into Tagi's death has ended. Tagi’s family and rights groups have raised suspicions about the circumstances of his death, stating that he died suddenly as his condition stabilised and noting a lack of security in the hospital prior to his death. They have also raised multiple shortcomings in the process of the investigation into his death.

On 17 May 2017, the European Court of Human Rights accepted an application from Tagi’s widow, alleging a violation of Article 2 (‘right to life’), on the grounds that the Azerbaijani authorities failed to protect her husband’s right to life because they should have known about the threats faced, and that the domestic authorities failed to conduct an effective investigation into the death of her husband. The application also alleges a violation of Article 10 (‘freedom of expression’), on the grounds that Tagi was targeted on account of his journalistic activities.
12 Dec 2019
In her report following her visit to Azerbaijan from 8 to 12 July 2019, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights regrets that no progress has been made regarding the protection of freedom of expression and calls on the authorities to release all those detained because of the views they expressed, notably journalists.

Key information :

Rafiq Tagi

A freelance journalist known for writing critically about the influence of Iran and Islam in Azerbaijani society.
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