Rapporteur responds to Azerbaijan court’s acquittal of Ilgar Mammadov and Rasul Jafarov

Sunna Ævarsdottir (Iceland, SOC), rapporteur for follow-up to Assembly Resolution 2322 (2020) on reported cases of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, has reacted to the decision of the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan to quash the convictions of Ilgar Mammadov, leader of the opposition REAL Party, and Rasul Jafarov, lawyer and human rights defender, and to award them compensation for the time they spent unlawfully imprisoned. This decision follows from judgments of the European Court of Human Rights delivered in 2014 and 2016, respectively, and the European Court’s May 2019 finding that Azerbaijan had refused to abide by the 2014 judgment.

“Better late, even very late, than never”, said Ms Ævarsdottir. “I am pleased to learn that Mr Mammadov and Mr Jafarov, former political prisoners, have at last been formally acquitted of these fabricated, politically motivated charges. But these decisions are still not enough to fulfil the European Court’s judgments on the wider group of related cases. Six other applicants who suffered similar violations – Anar Mammadli, Rashad Hasanov, Zaur Gurbanli, Uzeyir Mammadli, Rashadat Akhundov and Intigam Aliyev – still have wrongful convictions on their records. The Supreme Court now has until 30 April to restore in full the situation of all of these individuals, if Azerbaijan is to meet the Committee of Ministers’ latest deadline.”

“And beyond that, of course, there is still much to be done to fulfil the demands of the European Court, the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly for systemic reforms to prevent politically motivated misuse of the criminal justice system in future. I will continue to follow developments closely.”