Azerbaijan: Prominent human rights defender Leyla Yunus, IPD Director and a member of OMCT General Assembly, sentenced to three months pre-trial detention
AZE 002 / 0414 / OBS 031.1
/ House arrest /
Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of
the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation
for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent
intervention in the following situation in Azerbaijan.
Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest
and acts of harassment of Ms. Leyla
Yunus, Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy
(IPD) and a member of OMCT General Assembly, and her husband, Mr. Arif Yunusov, Head of the Conflictology
Department of IPD.
According to the information received, on July 30, 2014, Ms. Leyla Yunus
was travelling to a press conference in the capital of Baku when three men in
civilian dress stopped her car and forced her driver to change direction; the
men confiscated the cell phones of Ms. Yunus and the driver. Ms. Yunus was
secretly driven to Department of Serious Crimes, where prosecutors interrogated
her for six hours. It was not until several hours later that the Office of the
Prosecutor General telephoned Ms. Yunus’ husband and informed him that Ms.
Yunus had been detained. Mr. Yunusov went to the Prosecutor’s office and was
subsequently interrogated and detained as well.
Police eventually charged Ms. Yunus with “treason” (Article 274 of the Criminal Code),
“large-scale fraud” (Article (178.3.2),
“forgery” (Article 320),
“tax evasion” (Article 213),
and “illegal business” (Article
192); Mr. Yunusov was charged with “treason” and “fraud”. The
Court, however, never explained the basis for the charges, the punishments for
which ranges from heavy fines to life in prison.
The Nasimi District Court subsequently sentenced Ms. Yunus to three
months pre-trial detention while Mr. Yunusov is under house arrest due to his
The Observatory expresses its concern about the
arbitrary arrest and harassment of Ms. Leyla Yunus and Mr. Arif Yunusov, and
calls upon the authorities in Azerbaijan
to put an end to any kind
of harassment - including at the judicial level - against them as it seems to
only aim at sanctioning their activities. The Observatory is also concerned by Ms. Yunus’ health in detention as
she suffers from severe diabetes.
On April 28, 2014, Ms. Leyla Yunus was reportedly invited as a witness
on the criminal case of journalist Rauf Mirqadirov
to the Investigation Department of Serious Crimes of the Office of
Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan. That evening, however, Ms. Yunus and Mr.
Yunusov were detained at the Baku Heydar Aliyev airport where authorities
confiscated their passports and seized a laptop and paper records while denying
Ms. Yunus and Mr. Yunusov the right to see their lawyer. They were trying to
fly to Paris via Doha. An attempted search of the Yunus apartment later that night
resulted in the hospitalization of Mr. Yunusov for a pre-stroke condition.
next morning, April 29, 2014, Mrs. Yunus was taken to the Investigation Department of Serious
Crimes of the General Prosecutor’s Office and interrogated for nine hours,
including about joint projects of the IPD and Armenian NGOs as well as her
relations with journalist Rauf Mirqadirov. During her questioning, Ms. Yunus
alleged that she knows Mr. Mirqadirov only as a friend and good journalist. Later
that night, police searched the offices of the IPD as well as the Yunus’ private
residence, confiscating several computers, books, and print materials.
As of today, the passports of Ms. Yunus and
Mr. Yunusov have not been returned yet.
Moreover, the day before her arrest, on July
29, 2014, Ms. Leyla Yunus wrote a letter to the President of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, criticising the
arrest of many critics of his regime and human rights defenders.
Please write to the authorities in Azerbaijan, urging them to:
in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Leyla
Yunus, Mr. Arif Yunusov as well as of all human rights defenders in Azerbaijan;
and unconditionally release Ms. Leyla Yunus from pre-trial detention and Mr.
Yunusov from house arrest, since their detention is arbitrary as it only aims
at sanctioning their human rights activities;
all travel restrictions placed upon Ms. Leyla Yunus and Mr. Arif Yunusov;
an end to any kind of harassment - including at the judicial and investigatory levels
- against Ms. Leyla Yunus, Mr. Arif Yunusov, her relatives and more generally
against all human rights defenders in Azerbaijan;
with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by
the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:
1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association
with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of
human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;
5, which underscores the right of every individual to form, join, and
participate in non-governmental organizations; and
12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary measures to
ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually
and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de
facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action
as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;
in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in
accordance with international human rights standards and international
instruments ratified by Azerbaijan.
· Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President of
the Republic of Azerbaijan, Office of the President of the Republic of
Azerbaijan, 19 Istiqlaliyyat St., Baku AZ1066, Azerbaijan, Fax: (+994) 12 492
06 25, (+994) 412 92 28 68, E-mail: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
· Mr. Zakir
Garalov, Prosecutor General of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Prosecutor’s Office, 7 Nigar
Rafibeyli St., Baku, Azerbaijan, Fax: (+994) 12 492 06 82, (+994) 12 492 26 63,
· Mr. Eldar Mahmudov, Minister of National
Security, Ministry of National Security of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Parliament Avenue 14, Baku
Azerbaijan, Fax: (+994)
12 493-76-22, E-mail:
· Mr. Ramil Usubov, Minister of Internal Affairs,
Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Azerbaijani Republic, Fax: (+994) 12 492 45
· Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, E-mail: email@example.com
· Mr. Fikrat F. Mammadov, Minister of Justice in
Azerbaijan, Inshaatchilar Prospekti, 1 Baku, Azerbaijan, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Fax (+994) 12 430 09 81
· H.E. Mr. Murad N. Najafbayli, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of
Azerbaijan to the United Nations in Geneva, Route des Fayards 237, CH-1290 Versoix, Switzerland, Fax: (+41) 22 901 18 44,
of Azerbaijan in Brussels, Avenue Moliere 464, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Fax:
(+32) 2 345 91 85
also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Azerbaijan in your
respective country as well as to the EU
diplomatic missions or embassies in Azerbaijan.
Geneva-Paris, July 31, 2014
inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your
Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human
Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
Mr. Rauf Mirqadirov was deprived journalist accreditation in Turkey without any formal
reason, deported to Azerbaijan and arrested on his arrival to Baku on April 19,
2014 on charges of spying for Armenia. This procedure permits to avoid a
process of extradition and leaves no opportunity for appeal.