Following Azerbaijan’s unprecedented civil society crackdown since 2014, we are striving to support our partners – human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists – to continue their essential litigation at a time when they face considerable professional and personal threats.
Vilifying human rights defenders
Though Rasul Jafarov, Intigam Aliyev, Leyla and Arif Yunus – whom we represent before the European Court – were all released, civil society is unable to thrive because of corruption and repressive legislation.
We achieved two precedent-setting judgments on behalf of Rasul Jafarov, Leyla and Arif Yunus, all formerly imprisoned for their human rights activism. In the first judgment of its kind, the Court found in March that Rasul Jafarov’s arrest and detention were politically motivated as punishment for his human rights work. Three months later, the Court ruled that the authorities’ failure to provide adequate medical treatment to Leyla and Arif Yunus during their pre-trial detention constituted inhuman and degrading treatment – the first such finding of a violation against Azerbaijan.
We are representing two lawyers – Khalid Bagirov and Alayif Hasanov – in European Court cases challenging their disbarment and harassment by the authorities.
We are also litigating the case of journalist and writer Rafig Tagi, who was killed in November 2011. Mr Tagi was a well-known critic of the influence of Iran and Islam on Azerbaijan and had been threatened and imprisoned for his writings in the past. We are representing internationally acclaimed investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova as she challenges the travel ban imposed on her by the Azerbaijani Government.
As a result of civil society repression in Azerbaijan, which has resulted in the closure of many NGOs, we work closely with a number of individual lawyers.