URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY
AZE 001 / 0520 / OBS 055.1
Arbitrary detention /
October 15, 2020
The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World OrganisationAgainst Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, has received new information and requests yourintervention in the following situation in Azerbaijan.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about thesentencing and ongoing arbitrary detention of Mr. ElchinMammad, human rights lawyer, President of the Social Unionof Legal Education of Sumgait Youth (SULESY), an NGO providing free legalassistance to low income families and non-profits, as well as theEditor-in-chief of the newspaper Yukselish Namine, which publishesarticles on human rights concerns in the country.
Accordingto the information received, on October 14, 2020, the Sumgait City Courtsentenced Mr. Elchin Mammad to four years in prison under trumped-up charges of“theft causing significant damage” (Article177.2.4 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan) and “illegalpurchase and possession of firearm accessories” (Article 228.1 of the same Code).
TheObservatory is concerned about the circumstances in which the verdict washanded down which suggest that Mr. Elchin Mammad did not benefit from a fair trial. The evidenceheard at the trial was inconsistent and should not have led to Mr. Mammad'sconviction, while the investigation phase also appears to have been marred bypolice tampering of evidence (seebackground information). Mr. Elchin Mammad’s lawyer already expressed his intention to appealthe decision.
TheObservatory further deplores that the case of Mr. Elchin Mammad is onlyemblematic of the serious and widespread abuses and intimidation of humanrights activists in Azerbaijan, where a decades-long crackdown on human rightsdefenders has considerably curtailed civic space in the country.
TheObservatory strongly condemns the sentencing andcontinuing arbitrary detention of Mr. Elchin Mammad, which appears to be onlyaimed at sanctioning him for his legitimatehuman rights activities. TheObservatory further deplores that the arbitrary detention of Mr. Mammad putshim at high risk of contracting Covid-19 in view of the overcrowding and poorprison conditions in Azerbaijan, while Mr. Mammad's health has alreadydeteriorated during his pre-trial detention (see background information).
The Observatory calls on the Azerbaijani authorities toguarantee the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mr. Elchin Mammad, to immediately and unconditionallyrelease him, and to put an end to any act of harassment, including at thejudicial level, against him and all human rights defenders in the country.
Mr.Elchin Mammad has faced harassment from the authorities in connection with hishuman rights work since 2015, when authorities launched an investigation intohis organisation. He was subjected to arbitrary detention,and on several occasions summoned and questioned by the police. He was alsoplaced under travel restrictions in connection with the investigation.
OnMarch 30, 2020, the police arrested Mr. Elchin Mammad at his home in the cityof Sumgait, a few days after he had published online a critical report on the humanrights situation in Azerbaijan. The police claimed to have found stolenjewellery worth 7,500 manats (around 4,070 euros) at his office.
On March 31, Sumgait City Court remanded Mr.Elchin Mammad in custody for three months as a criminal suspect under Article 177.2.4 of theCriminal Code of Azerbaijan (“theft causingsignificant damage”).
Additional chargesunder Article 228. 1 of the Criminal Code (“illegal purchase and possession offirearm accessories”) were subsequently brought against him, as the policeallegedly found ammunitions during a second search of the SULESY offices whilehe was in detention.
Mr. Elchin Mammad was to be released on June 30, 2020. Yet the SumgaitCity Court extended his detention on remand of the duration of the trial andrejected on several occasions his lawyer’s request for him to be placed underhouse arrest, while Mr. Mammad health has seriously deteriorated in detentionwhere he developed kidney issues and experienced swollen legs whereas healready suffered from Hepatitis C.
Please write to the authorities of Azerbaijan asking them to:
i.Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychologicalwell-being of Mr. Elchin Mammadas well as of all human rights defenders in Azerbaijan;
ii.Release immediately and unconditionally Mr. Elchin Mammad as well as all human rightsdefenders arbitrarily detained in the country;
iii.Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, againstMr. Elchin Mammad as well as against all human rights defenders in Azerbaijan and ensurein all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimateactivities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;
iv.Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on HumanRights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, inparticular its Articles 1, 6(a), 9, 11 and 12.2;
v.Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedomsin accordance with international human rights standards and internationalinstruments ratified by Azerbaijan.
· Mr. KyamranAliev, Prosecutor General of the Republic of Azerbaijan, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Mr. ElmarMammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan,E-mail: email@example.com
· Mr. FikratF. Mammadov, Minister of Justice in Azerbaijan, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
· H.E. Mr.Vagif I Sadigov, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the UnitedNations in Geneva, E-mail: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Azerbaijanin your respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions orembassies in Azerbaijan.
Geneva-Paris, October 15, 2020
Kindly inform us of any actionundertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protectionof Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and theWorld Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme isto intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rightsdefenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human RightsDefenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, callthe emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39
· Tel FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18
 OnMay 29, 2015, Mr. Elchin Mammad was arrested at Baku airport afterparticipating in the session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council ofEurope. He was detained for 12 hours before being released without charge. OnAugust 9, 2016, he was prevented from crossing the border between Azerbaijan and Georgia, andsubsequently detained at Gazakh region police station for nine hours.