The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) and Media Defence are concerned with the recent criminal procedure initiated against Azeri human rights lawyer Elchin Sadigov and his client, journalist Avaz Zeynalli.
The manner of Mr Sadigov’s arrest and detention raise serious concerns with regard to the legitimacy and lawfulness of the procedures brought against him and their compatibility with international human rights standards.
While searching his house and office, the authorities seized material relating to cases Mr. Sadigov is working on as well as his electronic devices. These items are protected by legal professional privilege and contain sensitive information relating to serious human rights abuses. This material should be returned immediately.
The action taken against Elchin Sadigov is not an isolated case but reflects a pattern of harassment against critical voices in Azerbaijan, including politicians, journalists, lawyers and human rights defenders. This latest abuse of the legal system produces a chilling effect on legal professionals dedicated to upholding human rights in Azerbaijan, to the overall detriment of victims of human rights violations.
“Mr. Sadigov should be released immediately and respect for his rights and liberties must be ensured, in line with international human rights standards. As the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights stated earlier, Azerbaijani authorities have the “duty to ensure that human rights defenders and media professionals can carry out their work safely and freely”, reads the statement signed by IBAHRI Director Baroness Helena Kennedy K.C. and CEO, Media Defense Alinda Vermeer.