We, civil society organizations, condemn the court decisions to dismiss lawyer Elchin Namazov from the defence of his client, to petition the General Prosecutor’s Office to launch a criminal case against Namazov and to appeal to the Bar of Lawyers for his expulsion from the Bar. We assess this as another repressive measure against lawyers acting on behalf of sensitive clients. We also condemn the suspension of lawyer Khalid Bagirov.

In the 27th August 2011 trial of youth activist Rufat Hajibayli, arrested for his participation in the peaceful 2 April opposition protest under false charges, Judge Shahin Abdullayev of Nasimi District Court passed the above decision.

On August 24th, lawyer Khalid Bagirov was suspended for a year due to a complaint filed by Baku City General Police Office Chief Rafig Abbasov. Bagirov was defending jailed human rights defender Khalid Bagirov and youth activist Elnur Majidli, also arrested for his participation in the 2 April protest.

We believe that these steps are targeting both lawyers and their clients. The lawyers were successful in proving their clients’ innocence, indicating that they were arrested on political orders. The lawyer also played an active part publicizing legal violations in trials. These actions seek revenge against the lawyers. We believe that by restricting the operation of lawyers, the authorities are attempting to decrease the limited number of lawyers who work on political cases, and to deprive the political victims of good legal defence.

We state that these measures  violate Articles 60 (court guarantee of rights and freedoms) and 61 (right to legal assistance) of the Azerbaijani Constitution, as well as Article 6 (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention of Human rights and Fundamental Liberties, and the relevant legislation governing Lawyers and Lawyers’ practicing.

We call upon the Azerbaijani authorities to put an end to pressures against these lawyers and to ensure normal conditions for their work. We also call on the international community to be alert to this issue and be active in preventing harrassment of lawyers.
Ziya Guliyev, Legal Initiatives Center
Emin Huseynov, Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety
Irada Javadova, Legal Education Public Union
Rəsul Jafarov, Human Rights Club
Eynulla Fatullayev, Public Movement for Human Rights

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WEEK’S MAIN NEWS 03 09 2011

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