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Urgent Interventions

Prominent human rights defender Leyla Yunus, IPD Director and a member of OMCT General Assembly, sentenced to three months pre-trial detention

New information

AZE 002 / 0414 / OBS 031.1

Arbitrary detention/ House arrest /



July 31,2014

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme ofthe World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federationfor Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgentintervention in the following situation in Azerbaijan.

New information:

TheObservatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrestand acts of harassment of Ms. LeylaYunus, 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 ConflictologyDepartment of IPD.

According to the information received, on July 30, 2014, Ms. Leyla Yunuswas travelling to a press conference in the capital of Baku when three men incivilian dress stopped her car and forced her driver to change direction; themen confiscated the cell phones of Ms. Yunus and the driver. Ms. Yunus wassecretly driven to Department of Serious Crimes, where prosecutors interrogatedher for six hours. It was not until several hours later that the Office of theProsecutor General telephoned Ms. Yunus’ husband and informed him that Ms.Yunus had been detained. Mr. Yunusov went to the Prosecutor’s office and wassubsequently 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” (Article192); Mr. Yunusov was charged with “treason” and “fraud”. TheCourt, however, never explained the basis for the charges, the punishments forwhich ranges from heavy fines to life in prison.

The Nasimi District Court subsequently sentenced Ms. Yunus to threemonths pre-trial detention while Mr. Yunusov is under house arrest due to hishealth condition.

The Observatory expresses its concern about thearbitrary arrest and harassment of Ms. Leyla Yunus and Mr. Arif Yunusov, andcalls upon the authorities in Azerbaijanto put an end to any kindof harassment - including at the judicial level - against them as it seems toonly aim at sanctioning their activities. The Observatory is also concerned by Ms. Yunus’ health in detention asshe suffers from severe diabetes.

Background information:

On April 28, 2014, Ms. Leyla Yunus was reportedly invited as a witnesson the criminal case of journalist Rauf Mirqadirov[1]to the Investigation Department of Serious Crimes of the Office ofProsecutor General of Azerbaijan. That evening, however, Ms. Yunus and Mr.Yunusov were detained at the Baku Heydar Aliyev airport where authoritiesconfiscated their passports and seized a laptop and paper records while denyingMs. Yunus and Mr. Yunusov the right to see their lawyer. They were trying tofly to Paris via Doha. An attempted search of the Yunus apartment later that nightresulted in the hospitalization of Mr. Yunusov for a pre-stroke condition.

Thenext morning, April 29, 2014, Mrs. Yunus was taken to the Investigation Department of SeriousCrimes of the General Prosecutor’s Office and interrogated for nine hours,including about joint projects of the IPD and Armenian NGOs as well as herrelations with journalist Rauf Mirqadirov. During her questioning, Ms. Yunusalleged that she knows Mr. Mirqadirov only as a friend and good journalist. Laterthat night, police searched the offices of the IPD as well as the Yunus’ privateresidence, confiscating several computers, books, and print materials.

As of today, the passports of Ms. Yunus andMr. Yunusov have not been returned yet.

Moreover, the day before her arrest, on July29, 2014, Ms. Leyla Yunus wrote a letter to the President of Azerbaijan, Mr. Ilham Aliyev, criticising thearrest of many critics of his regime and human rights defenders.

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities in Azerbaijan, urging them to:

i. Guaranteein all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. LeylaYunus, Mr. Arif Yunusov as well as of all human rights defenders in Azerbaijan;

ii. Immediatelyand unconditionally release Ms. Leyla Yunus from pre-trial detention and Mr.Yunusov from house arrest, since their detention is arbitrary as it only aimsat sanctioning their human rights activities;

iii. Removeall travel restrictions placed upon Ms. Leyla Yunus and Mr. Arif Yunusov;

iv. Putan end to any kind of harassment - including at the judicial and investigatory levels- against Ms. Leyla Yunus, Mr. Arif Yunusov, her relatives and more generallyagainst all human rights defenders in Azerbaijan;

v. Conformwith the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted bythe General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:

- Article1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in associationwith others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation ofhuman rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”;

- Article5, which underscores the right of every individual to form, join, andparticipate in non-governmental organizations; and

- Article12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary measures toensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individuallyand in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, defacto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary actionas a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;

vi. Ensurein all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms inaccordance with international human rights standards and internationalinstruments ratified by Azerbaijan.


· Mr. Ilham Aliyev, President ofthe Republic of Azerbaijan, Office of the President of the Republic ofAzerbaijan, 19 Istiqlaliyyat St., Baku AZ1066, Azerbaijan, Fax: (+994) 12 49206 25, (+994) 412 92 28 68, E-mail:,

· Mr. ZakirGaralov, Prosecutor General of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Prosecutor’s Office, 7 NigarRafibeyli St., Baku, Azerbaijan, Fax: (+994) 12 492 06 82, (+994) 12 492 26 63,,

· Mr. Eldar Mahmudov, Minister of NationalSecurity, Ministry of National Security of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Parliament Avenue 14, BakuAZ1006,Azerbaijan, Fax: (+994)12 493-76-22,

· Mr. Ramil Usubov, Minister of Internal Affairs,Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Azerbaijani Republic, Fax: (+994) 12 492 4590

· Mr. Elmar Mammadyarov Minister of Foreign Affairs,Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan, E-mail:

· Mr. Fikrat F. Mammadov, Minister of Justice inAzerbaijan, Inshaatchilar Prospekti, 1 Baku, Azerbaijan, e-mail:; Fax (+994) 12 430 09 81

· H.E. Mr. Murad N. Najafbayli, Ambassador, Permanent Mission ofAzerbaijan to the United Nations in Geneva, Route des Fayards 237, CH-1290 Versoix, Switzerland, Fax: (+41) 22 901 18 44,E-mail:

· Embassyof Azerbaijan in Brussels, Avenue Moliere 464, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Fax:(+32) 2 345 91 85

Pleasealso write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Azerbaijan in yourrespective country as well as to the EUdiplomatic missions or embassies in Azerbaijan.


Geneva-Paris, July 31, 2014

Kindlyinform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in yourreply.

TheObservatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of HumanRights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

[1] Mr. Rauf Mirqadirov was deprived journalist accreditation in Turkey without any formalreason, 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 aprocess of extradition and leaves no opportunity for appeal.

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