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The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has decided to allocate a total of 51,000 euros to five Azerbaijani activists who had lodged a complained regarding their detention in the early 2010s. 

The two reports published on July 20 on the website of the court say that the five activists, Shahin Mirzayev,  Turgut Gambar, Ilkin Rustamzade, Dayanat Babayev and Ulvi Hasanov, were repeatedly arrested for their participation to protests in Baku between 2011 and 2013. 

At the time of the cases, Babayev was a member of the youth committee of the Azerbaijani Popular Front Party (Azərbaycan Xalq Cəbhəsi Partiyası, AXCP), Hasanov was the chairmen of a youth organisation called Azad Genclik; Qambar was a member of opposition group N!DA, Rustamzade  was a member of the opposition group İctimai Palata. 

Babayev was arrested on March 4, 2011 and he was detained for ten days’ administrative detention. Likewise he was detained for 10 days in October 2012 for taking part in a demonstration and 7 days in November 2012 for the same reason. 

Hasanov was arrested twice, in March 2011 and in October 2012, and in both cases he was detained for 7 days’.

Mirzayev was arrested in 2012 when police dispersed an opposition demonstration held on 20 October. According to official records, he was arrested as the demonstration was not authorised and he continued to protest despite police orders to disperse. 

Qambar was arrested during the same demonstration held on 20 October 2012 for the same reasons that caused Mirazayev’s arrest. However, Gambar was also arrested during demonstrations on 12 January 2013 and 26 Jaunary 2013. In the last case, he  was accused of inciting people over Facebook to take part in unauthorised gatherings. 

Rustamzade was  also arrested for taking part in an unauthorised march held in April 2013.

Mirzayev, Gambar, Rustamzade lodged a complaint against the Republic of Azerbaijan for the dispersal of the demonstrations of 20 October 2012, 12 January, 26 January and 30 April 2013 and for the alleged violation of their right to to freedom of assembly (Art.11) and freedom of expression (Art.10). In addition, they complained under Art. 6 of the Convention that they did not have a public and fair hearing, under Art. 5 which provides for the condition of the  arrest, under Art. 7 and Art. 41, which respectively say that  “no one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national or international law at the time when it was committed” and that “if the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”

The court ruled that the Republic of Azerbaijan violated the same articles in the case of Babayev and Hasanov plus Art.3.  However,  in both cases the court said that there was no need to examine  complaints under Article 7.

Accordingly, the Republic of Azerbaijan, within three months, will have to pay 10,000 euros per person to Babayev and Hasanov for non-pecuniary damage and 1,000 euros jointly for costs and expenses. Mirzayev, Gambar and Rustamzade will be compensated a total of 30,000 euros.

According to the  Caucasian Knot, the lawyer Mustafayev was not satisfied with the compensation. 

“This is a violation of the fundamental rights of citizens - of personal freedom and freedom of assembly. Recently, the ECHR in similar cases from Azerbaijan has established compensation in the amount of 6-10 thousand euros, although in the case of other countries, the moral damage is much higher. This does not motivate the Azerbaijani authorities to end restrictions on freedom of assembly. Moreover, measures are not being taken to improve legislation in the field of holding rallies and pickets”, Mustafayev was quoted by media as saying. 

At the moment of the ECHR verdict, Rustamzade is still in detention. 

“We are pleased that the ECHR found violations of the rights in cases in connection with administrative arrests, but we are awaiting the decision of the ECHR in the criminal case against him” Rustamzade’s lawyer, Nemat Kerimli, was quoted  by the Caucasian Knot as saying.


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