In Azerbaijan, where victims of human rights violations struggle to find justice in domestic courts, international judicial mechanisms are often seen as the primary avenue for remedies and social change. Since 2014 – when the Azerbaijani authorities initiated a massive crackdown on civil society – we have focused on representing human rights defenders, NGOs, journalists and human rights lawyers who faced arbitrary detentions, imprisonment, disbarment, harassment, and violence.
Through our joint strategic litigation with Azerbaijani partners, we also strive to address deeply systemic structural problems in the country. These include the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials – including cases of ill-treatment and death in custody, the persecution of marginalised groups such as LGBTIQ+ people, and the inability to claim property lost during the Nagorno-Karabakh war.
Jafarov v Azerbaijan
In April 2020, Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court quashed the conviction of the prominent human rights defender Rasul Jafarov, who was wrongfully imprisoned in 2014. EHRAC represented Rasul, before the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled in March 2016 that his arrest and detention was aimed at punishing him for his human rights work. He was released by presidential pardon on the same day.