PRESS-RELEASE , March 22, 2018
The Working Group (WG) on Unified List of Political Prisoners in Azerbaijan presents updated Unified List of Political Prisoners in Azerbaijan.
The list includes 144 names. Based on documents obtained, court observations and interviews, The Woking Group has already recognized 142 of them as people arrested with political motivation – political prisoners. 2 cases remain Under Monitoring, as their documents have not been available for studying and informed decision.
The Group notes growing number of those arrested for exercising their fundamental rights, such as freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, as well as continuing persecution of the government against peaceful believers.
142 confirmed cases of political prisoners include:
– 11 journalists and bloggers,
– 2 poets and writers,
– 1 human rights defender,
– 12 civil and political activists,
– 83 religious activists and
– 3 life prisoners.
– 15 persons arrested in the relation to social protests (including 1 person arrested for Ismayilli protests in 2013, 4 persons arrested for Mingachevir protests in 2015, 10 persons arrested for Siyazan protests in 2016),
– 2 former government officials,
– 3 political hostages,
– 10 Said Dadashbayli and those arrested with him.
Note: Five prisoners are expected to be released in April and May due to completion of their prison terms.
Brief information about the Unified List of Political Prisoners in Azerbaijan:
The goal of preparing the Unified List of Political Prisoners is to define the common position on people whose arrests were politically motivated, consolidate the efforts for their release in the country and internationally.
The Updated List is a result of the Research based on information and documents obtained by the WG members, or submitted to the Group, court observations and trustworthy media reports.
Decision on recognition as political prisoner is based on criterias defined in the October 3, 2012 Resolution #1900 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe:
“A person deprived of his or her personal liberty is to be regarded as a ‘political prisoner’:
- if the detention has been imposed in violation of one of the fundamental guarantees set out in the European Convention on Human Rights and its Protocols (ECHR), in particular freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression and information, freedom of assembly and association;
- if the detention has been imposed for purely political reasons without connection to any offence;
- if, for political motives, the length of the detention or its conditions are clearly out of proportion to the offence the person has been found guilty of or is suspected of;
- if, for political motives, he or she is detained in a discriminatory manner as compared to other persons; or,
- if the detention is the result of proceedings which were clearly unfair and this appears to be connected with political motives of the authorities”.”
The decision on recognition of the case as politically motivated followed long discussions on the matters and documents. When the political motivation was obviously seen in the court decisions on detention, statements of the law-enforcement agencies and the country leadership, The Working Group have regarded the case as political prisoner, without waiting for a trial hearing on the case.
The Working Group extends it’s gratitude to the lawyers, cooperating with the Group, who supported the work with access to documents and legal support to prisoners, who lacked independent legal representation in the investigation.
The Working Group regretfully states, that the real number of political prisoners in Azerbaijan is much higher than could be reflected in the document as many cases are under-reported due to the fear of further repression. Another problem is lack of legal education, defense lawyers, who agree to undertake political cases and lack of defense mechanisms, especially in rural regions of Azerbaijan.
The Working Group also finds it necessary to clarify the issue with the cases of Life-long prisoners. There are 16 life prisoners who are included in some other lists of political prisoners. One of them died in prison in 2015, twelve others were recognized by CoE experts as non-political prisoners. After long discussions, the Working Group decided to include only three out of 16 life prisoners to the Unified List of Political Prisoners. However, the Group advocates for the change of the punishment to the certain prison term for all life-long prisoners.
The list is signed by famous human rights defenders, media, NGO and other representatives of the Civil Society.
The Working Group on Unified List Of Political Prisoners