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Azerbaijan: rapporteurs concerned about pre-trial detention of Anar Mammadli

Pedro Agramunt (Spain, EPP/CD) and Joseph Debono Grech (Malta, SOC), Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) rapporteurs for monitoring of Azerbaijan, have expressed their deep concern at the Nasimi District Court’s decision to place Anar Mammadli, a well-known human rights defender, in pre-trial detention on charges which include, inter alia, tax evasion and illegal business activity.

Mr Mammadli is Chairman of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center which monitored the last presidential election in Azerbaijan and published critical reports on the electoral process. His organisation co-operates with international human rights organisations including the Council of Europe. The rapporteurs have met him on several occasions during their fact-finding visits to Baku and at the Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg.

“This decision on pre-trial detention may raise suspicions about politically motivated justice which we denounced in our recent report on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Azerbaijan debated in the Assembly earlier this year”, said the co-rapporteurs, pointing out that pre-trial detention should be the last resort and can be justifiable only in exceptional circumstances. “Fairness of judicial procedure and, more generally, the lack of independence of justice, are serious concerns in Azerbaijan”, they added.

"We call on the Azerbaijan authorities to ensure that the legal proceedings are conducted transparently and in full compliance with Azerbaijan’s obligations under Articles 5 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. That includes a possible revision of the decision on pre-trial detention. We will follow very closely the whole procedure and will raise this question with the authorities during our planned visit early next year,” they concluded.