The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks has made a second appeal to the European Human Rights Court, expressing his intention to make a third-party intervention in the case filed against Azerbaijan by the investigative journalist Khadija Ismayil, who has been behind bars since 2014. The Commissioner made his first appeal on September 23, 2015. In June 2015, a complaint was submitted to the European Human Rights Court over Khadija Ismayil’s arrest and the violation of her rights guaranteed in articles 5 (right to liberty), 6 (right to a fair trial), and 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights. In August 2015, the European Human Rights Court started communication on the journalist’s complaint against Azerbaijan.
The statement issued in this regard by the Secretariat of the European Commissioner says that in accordance with his mandate, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights has been briefed about the situation of human rights in Azerbaijan and its connection to Khadija Ismayil’s case. As a result he has declared his decision to intervene in the journalist’s case against Azerbaijan with a motion.
“The situation of human rights defenders in Azerbaijan is of great concern. Reprisals, including judicial harassment, against critical voices are a widespread phenomenon in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is failing to comply with its international obligations which require safeguarding civil freedoms. The case of the prominent investigative journalist Khadija Ismayil is essentially no different from those of other human rights defenders who have been subjected to repression. In the past two years, Nils Muiznieks has urged for an end to arbitrary repressions and to drop the charges against human rights defenders, civil society sector and journalists during his visits to Azerbaijan. However, the crackdown has intensified. The Commissioner would like to note that the repressions against his partners in Azerbaijan have made his activity as a commissioner more difficult. The persecution of human rights defenders must be ended and all individuals arrested for his human rights activities must be released,” the statement reads.
Prior to this, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights had appealed to the European Court in relation to the cases of the arrested journalist Hilal Mammadov and human rights defenders Intigam Aliyev, Anar Mammadli and Rasul Jafarov.
Background: A group of international organizations, including Article 19, International Media Support, PEN International, International Partnership for Human Rights and Committee to Protect Journalists has already been granted a leave by the European Court of Human Rights to intervene as a third party in Ismayil’s case.