Rasul Jafarov submits expert’s opinion to Committee of Ministers
Lawyers for prominent human rights defender Rasul Jafarov have today asked the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to call on the Azerbaijani authorities to reopen the proceedings into his criminal conviction.
Jafarov, the founder and chair of the Human Rights Club, was imprisoned for his activism in 2014 along with many other activists. In 2016, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that his arrest and detention had been politically motivated to silence him. However, Azerbaijan’s courts have refused to reopen the domestic proceedings which led to his conviction and imprisonment. As a result of his conviction, Mr Jafarov has been restricted in his work, faces more serious punishment if convicted of other offences, and cannot be a member of the Azerbaijani Bar Association or stand for elections until 2021.
On 1 September 2017, his lawyer Khalid Baghirov and the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre, based at Middlesex University, submitted a letter to the Committee of Ministers, which supervises the execution of the Court’s judgments, supported by an opinion provided by leading UK barrister Julian Knowles, QC. In his expert view, there is “no question” that Jafarov’s conviction resulted from a politically-motivated case of such gravity as to “cast doubt on the legitimacy of his conviction”. He concluded that the European Court’s findings of violations of Articles 5 and 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights justified reopening the proceedings in Jafarov’s case.
The letter, submitted ahead of the Committee of Ministers’ September meeting in Strasbourg, urges the Committee to consider Mr Jafarov’s situation, which has wider implications for other human rights defenders in the country who continue to face serious repercussions and persecution for criticising the government.
|Letter to the Committee of Ministers
|Expert legal opinion on Rasul Jafarov v Azerbaijan