AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL DISSEMINATES STATEMENT

March 9th, 2010
Amnesty International disseminated a statement expressing concern about worsened situation of press freedom in Azerbaijan.
“Five years on from Elmar Huseynov’s death, the actions of the Azerbaijani authorities have repeatedly demonstrated their determination to silence any dissenting voices. Amnesty International is concerned that in 2010 the crackdown on dissent in Azerbaijan has tightened,” the statement read.

Amnesty International brought up the case of youth activists and blogger-journalists Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli and stated that they were imprisoned because of a critical video footage they placed online.

Amnesty International condemned the new charge filed against Gundelik Azerbaijan and Realniy Azerbaijan newspapers’ editor-in-chief Eynulla Fatullayev. “On 1 March the pre-trial detention of independent newspaper editor Eynulla Fatullayev, an outspoken critic of the government and former colleague of Elmar Huseynov, was extended,” continued the statement. “He now faces charges of illegal drug possession. Amnesty International believes these charges have been brought against Eynulla Fatullayev, already imprisoned on charges of defamation, terrorism, incitement of ethnic hatred and tax evasion, as part of an attempt to discredit him further while his case is being reviewed by the European Court of Human Rights.”

The organization called on Azerbaijan’s authorities to conduct an effective investigation into Elmar Huseynov’s homicide and to prosecute the perpetrators five years after the assassination.

“Authorities reportedly told Baku-based Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety that an international arrest warrant has been issued for two Georgian citizens, who have been identified as suspects. However, the Georgian authorities reportedly deny that any formal request has been received to take legal action against the suspects,” said the statement.

Amnesty International called upon the Azerbaijani authorities to fulfill their international obligations, to guarantee freedom of expression and assembly and to ensure that journalists and human rights defenders are able to exercise their right to freedom of expression openly and without fear of harassment.

A criminal case was opened regarding the murder of Elmar Huseynov who was killed in front of his apartment on 2 March, 2005. However, the executors and people behind his murder have not been found to this day.  

Eynulla Fatullayev was sentenced to 2.5 years of imprisonment on 21 April 2007 for insulting honor and dignity.  Later he was convicted under articles 214.1 (threatening terror), 283.2.2 (incitement of ethnic/national, social or religious hatred abusing authority), and 213.2.2 (tax evasion) of the Criminal Code and was sentenced to 8.5 years of imprisonment on 30 October 2007. Prior to the new charge against him, Fatullayev was serving his sentence in prison #12. On 29 December, 0.223 grams heroin was found on Fatullayev. Eynulla Fatullayev and his lawyer assess this incident as an operation set-up to prevent the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) regarding the journalist in the near future. A criminal case was opened against Fatullayev in the Garadag District Investigative Department under article 234.1 of the Criminal Code (Illegal purchase or storage without a purpose of selling of narcotics or psychotropic substances in a quantity (amount) exceeding necessary for personal consumption) and he was transferred to the Baku Investigative Prison #2 on 2 January.  

On 8 July, at approximately 8:00 p.m., Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade were sitting at a table in “Lebonese”  (Livan) restaurant along with several other young adults, when two people that looked like sportsmen came up to them, and attacked them causing physical injuries. Although they appealed to police as victims, police detained Adnan and Emin as suspected persons for 48 hours and freed the attackers. On 10 July, the Sabail District Court issued a decision under article 221.2.1 (hooliganism) of the Criminal Code to sentence Emin Milli and Adnan Hajizade to two months pre-trial detention. On July 20 the Appellate Court upheld the decision of the lower court. The investigation of the criminal case was concluded and a criminal case under articles 221.2.1 (hooliganism) and 127 (inflicting intentional minor bodily harm) was opened against E.Millli and A.Hajizade and the case had been sent to court to be considered. According to the verdict of Sabail district Court, Emin Milli was sentenced to 2,5 years imprisonment and Adnan Hajizade to 2 years imprisonment on 11 November.