Azerbaijan: Ongoing judicial harassment against Human Rights Lawyer 

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April 23,Baku: Intigam Aliyev, 51, is one of Azerbaijan’s most prominent human rights lawyers and head of the Legal Education Society (LES). He is serving a seven and half years sentence on charges of tax evasion, illegal entrepreneurship, and abuse of authority and is currently being held in pretrial detention in Baku.

The series of chargers on Aliyev are politically motivated, and the court procedure was fabricated, in the most recent ongoing campaign by Azerbaijani authorities to silence those who criticize the repressive regime and stand up for human rights. It highlights the government’s systematic efforts to discredit and punish civil society members promoting respect for human rights in Azerbaijan.

In a statement disseminated on 10 August 2014 by his lawyer, Intigam Aliyev underlines “his detention was connected with his activity as human rights defender, and the purpose of this is to silence him down, based on a political instruction from above.”

Intigam Aliyev is an adorned human rights lawyer and has received many accolades for his unwavering support of those who have suffered the violation of their fundamental rights and freedoms. In 2014, Mr. Aliyev, along with other prominent human rights defenders in Azerbaijan, was presented with the Andrei Sakharov Freedom Award by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. He has also received the Homo Homini Award from People in Need, a Czech human rights organization. Mr. Aliyev is internationally respected for his tireless efforts to hold the government of Azerbaijan responsible for fulfilling its obligations under international law and has acted as an expert consultant to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) regarding the rule of law and human rights in Azerbaijan.

Aliyev is also among several human rights defenders – including Jafarov, Leyla Yunus, and a leading investigative journalist, Khadija Ismayilova – who had been compiling a comprehensive list of victims of politically motivated arrests in Azerbaijan, and pressing for their release. Like Aliyev and Jafarov, Yunus, Ismayilova, and others involved in the effort are also behind bars, awaiting trials on various trumped-up charges.

Amnesty International has named at least 20 prisoners of conscience in Azerbaijan. The activists are currently languishing in prison or in detention awaiting trial following spurious charges ranging from fraud and embezzlement to abuse of drugs and even treason solely for the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression. Amnesty International is calling for them all to be immediately and unconditionally released.

In March, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights, Nils Muižnieks, filed a submission to the European Court of Human Rights on Aliyev’s case, in which he said that the case “provides a disturbing illustration of this pattern of reprisals against those who co-operate with international institutions, including the Council of Europe, to address human rights shortcomings in Azerbaijan.” He further noted that Aliyev’s arrest is part of “a clear pattern of repression in Azerbaijan against those expressing dissent or criticism of the authorities.”

The Oslo Times sincerely condemns the politically motivated conviction of Intigam Aliyev calls upon the Azeri authorities to release Mr. Intigam Aliyev immediately since his detention is arbitrary as it only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities, and to put an end to any kind of harassment including at the judicial level against him and all human rights defenders in Azerbaijan.                          The Oslo Times

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