The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders calls on to release Elchin Mamed

October 23rd, 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, has received new information and requests your intervention in the following situation in Azerbaijan.

The Observatory has been informed about the denial of mitigation of sentence and ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. Elchin Mammad, human rights lawyer, President of the Social Union of Legal Education of Sumgait Youth (SULESY), an NGO providing free legal assistance to low-income families and non-profits, as well as the Editor-in-chief of the newspaper Yukselish Namine, which publishes articles on human rights concerns in the country.

On October 9, 2021, the Surakhani District Court dismissed the appeal filed by Elchin Mammad requesting the replacement of his remaining prison term with either a suspended prison sentence or non-custodial alternatives.  

“The court ruled that although Elchin Mammad did not commit any violations of the penitentiary rules during his imprisonment, he did not plead guilty to the charges. At the time of the publication of this urgent appeal, Elchin Mammad remained in custody in prison No 14 of the Penitentiary Service of the Ministry of Justice, where his health condition deteriorated sharply due to the lack of adequate medical care,” the appeal reads.

The Observatory recalls that on March 30, 2020, the police arrested Elchin Mammad at his home in the city of Sumgait, a few days after he had published online a critical report on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. The police claimed to have found stolen jewelry worth 7,500 manats (around 4,070 Euros) and ammunition at his office. The Sumgait City Court remanded Mr. Mammad in custody on charges of “theft causing significant damage” and “illegal purchase and possession of firearm accessories”. On October 14, 2020, the Sumgait City Court sentenced Mr. Mammad to four years in prison.

“The evidence heard at the trial was inconsistent and should not have led to Mr. Mammad’s conviction, while the investigation phase also appeared to have been marred by police tampering of evidence,” the appeal says.

The Observatory expresses its utmost concern over the ongoing arbitrary detention and the health condition of Elchin Mammad and urges the Azerbaijani authorities to grant him access to adequate and comprehensive medical treatment, and to immediately and unconditionally release him, as his detention is arbitrary and is only putting his life at risk.

The Observatory further deplores that the case of Elchin Mammad is only emblematic of the serious and widespread abuses and intimidation of human rights activists in Azerbaijan, where a decades-long crackdown on human rights defenders has considerably curtailed civic space in the country.

The appeal is addressed to the President, Prosecutor General, Foreign and Justice Ministers of Azerbaijan, as well as to the head of the country’s mission at the UN Geneva office.

Mammad’s lawyer Fariz Namazli told Turan that an appeal was filed against the court’s decision to refuse to mitigate the punishment.

*On October 17, 2020, the Sumgayit City Court sentenced the head of the Legal Education of Sumgayit Youth NGO and the editor of the “Yukselish Namine” website Elchin Mammad to 4 years in prison, having found him guilty of “theft” and “illegal storage of ammunition and weapons” …

The human rights defender was arrested in March 2020. A woman to whom he provided legal assistance complained about him. The previously mentioned woman also complained about the editor of the website criminal.az Anar Mammadov.

Mammad connects the criminal case with his human rights activities. International organizations Amnesty International, PEN, FİACAT and others condemned the arrest of Mammad. Local human rights activists recognized him as a political prisoner.