Politically motivated cases
In recent years, we have seen a sharp rise in the criminal prosecution of dissidents across our target region. As part of its increasingly authoritarian policies, the Azerbaijani authorities have used their criminal justice system to imprison leading human rights defenders, activists and journalists to punish them for their work. In Georgia and Russia, political opposition members have been detained arbitrarily and had their fundamental rights violated during detention.
We have successfully secured a number of ground-breaking judgments from the European Court of Human Rights establishing the politically-motivated nature of these cases and securing justice for victims. Such judgments, finding a rare violation of Article 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights, not only determine the presence of political motivation in the authorities’ actions but also laid the groundwork for the Court’s newly developed standards across the Council of Europe region.
Conviction of Azerbaijani human rights defender quashed
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. This marked the first time that the Court has applied Article 18 to the detention of a human rights defender. Rasul was released by presidential pardon on the same day.