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Ilham Aliyev, President, Republic of Azerbaijan

Artur Rasizade, Prime Minister, Republic of Azerbaijan


Ogtay Asadov, Speaker of the Parliament, Republic of Azerbaijan
Elmar Mammadyarov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Azerbaijan

Statement by the Azerbaijan National Platform


of Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (EaP CSF)
on the Verdict against Mehman Huseynov

Baku, 5 March 2017

We, the undersigned members of the EaP CSF Azerbaijani National Platform, condemn the
verdict of the Surakhany District Court as of 2 March 2017 on the two-year sentence for
Mehman Huseynov, Chairman of the Institute for Rapporteurs Freedom and Safety (IRFS
Azerbaijan)1, and consider this judgment to be another blow to the civil society and freedom of
expression in Azerbaijan.

The imprisonment of Mehman Huseynov reflects the danger posed by the existing gaps in the
legislation on protection against defamation and by the delay in the adoption and enforcement
of the Law on Defamation2.

The National Platform further underlines that Azerbaijan is a member state of the Council of
Europe and has ratified several legally binding conventions. Moreover, the European Court of
Human Rights in its judgments against Azerbaijan (Mahmudov and Aghazadeh v. Azerbaijan,
Fatullayev v. Azerbaijan) reiterated that there is still a criminal liability for defamation. In
addition, the request of the Council of Europes Committee of Ministers3 on the
decriminalization of defamation and concrete reforms in this area is still being neglected.

Furthermore, the verdict against Mehman Huseynov contradicts the Order of the President of
the Republic of Azerbaijan as of 10 February 20174 on the establishment of probation service
and humanization of criminal punishment as a part of a new policy towards legal reforms
declared by the government.

1 Mehman Huseynov was elected as the Chairman of the Institute for Freedom and Security of Rapporteurs (IRFS) on 26 November 2016.
2 http://www.venice.coe.int/webforms/documents/default.aspx?pdffile=CDL-AD(2013)024-e
3 https://search.coe.int/cm/Pages/result_details.aspx?ObjectID=09000016805c2e45
4 Order of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan as of 10 February 2017 on the Improvement of the performance of penitentiary
institutions, humanization of criminal punishment and extension of the scope of alternative punishment application and procedural
measures not isolating the offender from society: http://www.president.az/articles/22756.
The National Platform is deeply concerned over the fact that the Mehman Huseynovs
imprisonment contradicts Azerbaijans commitments as a member state of the Council of
Europe. This situation contributes to the restrictive environment affecting the activities of the
civil society organizations taking part in the Eastern Partnership cooperation policies.

The National Platform is calling on Azerbaijani government to immediately release Mehman


Huseynov.

Signatures:

1. Zohrab smayil, Public Union for Assistance to Free Economy,


2. Rasul Jafarov, Human Rights Club,
3. Rafig Tamrazov, Equal Opportunities Public Union,
4. Shahla smayil, Women Association for Rational Development,
5. Khalid Vahidoghlu, Regional Center for Human Rights and Media,
6. Qubad badolu, Center for Public Initiatives,
7. Sevil Yuzbashova, Eko-Alem Public Union,
8. Anar Oruj, Caucasus Center for Media Researches,
9. Zaur Akbar, Youth Club Public Union,
10. Elchin Abdullayev, Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Public Union,
11. Bakhtiyar Hajiyev, Public Policy Institute,
12. Arzu Abdullayeva, National Committee of Azerbaijan of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly,
13. Ilgar Huseynli, Social Strategical Research and Analytical Investigations Public Union,
14. Abil Bayramov, BNA NGO Alliance,
15. Hasan Huseynli, Kamil Vetendash Educational Public Union,
16. Evez Hasanov, Public Union for Humanitarian Researches,
17. Ilham Safar, Internews Azerbaijan,
18. Samir Aliyev, Public Union for Assistance to Economic Initiatives,
19. Ilyas Safarli, Uluchay Center for Social and Economic Innovations,
20. Ziya Guliyev, Center for Legal Initiatives, Country Facilitator,
21. Anar Mammadli, Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Public Union.