International organizations disseminated statements condemning the decision of the Baku Appellate Court to not fulfill the appeal of imprisoned youth bloggers Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli.
“We are deeply bothered by Azerbaijan’s continued practice of criminalizing freedom of expression and call on authorities to release Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli at once,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova.
“Today’s ruling is yet another setback for freedom of expression in Azerbaijan,” said Giorgi Gogia, South Caucasus researcher for Human Rights Watch. “The case is blatantly part of a pattern of prosecutions in which the authorities have brought trumped-up charges against outspoken journalists and activists in Azerbaijan. The continued imprisonment of Milli and Hajizade reflects growing government hostility toward freedom of expression. The government has a chance to prove the contrary by setting them free.”
“Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli have fallen victim to the increasingly repressive measures taken by the Azerbaijani authorities to crackdown on critics of the government,” said Andrea Huber, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director at Amnesty International. “Independent journalists and activists continue to face harassment and imprisonment in Azerbaijan despite the country’s international obligations to uphold the right to freedom of expression.”
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. On 10 March, the Baku Appellate Court adopted a decision to uphold the verdict of the Sabail District Court.