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Startseite Urgent Actions 2020 04 Human rights defender must be freed
UA 045/20
Azerbaijan
Abgeschlossen am 17. Juli 2020
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05.06.2020 Latest news

There haven’t been any positive developments in the situation of Azerbaijani human rights defender Elchin Mammad. He remains in detention since his arrest on 30 March under trumped up charges after publishing online a critical report on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. Elchin Mammad must be immediately and unconditionally released.

We would therefore ask you to continue sending appeals on the Urgent Action we issued on 1 April and we have extended the appeals deadline until 17 July.

Thank you for your support!

Human rights defender must be freed

AI-Index: EUR 55/2069/2020

Azerbaijani human rights defender Elchin Mammad was arrested on 30 March and has been detained since under trumped up charges, after publishing online a critical report on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. Elchin Mammad should be released immediately and unconditionally.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Elchin Mammad is the president of the Social Union of Legal Education of Sumgait Youth, an NGO providing free legal assistance to families on low income and non-profits. He is also the editor-in-chief of the newspaper Yukselish Namine, reporting on different human rights concerns in the country. In 2014 authorities launched an investigation into a number of NGOs, including Social Union of Legal Education of Sumgait Youth. He was summoned and questioned several times by the Sumgait police and placed under travel restrictions in connection with the investigation. In 2015 he was detained for 12 hours and released without any official charges after taking part in the session of the Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe (PACE).

In 2013, the government of Azerbaijan started a widespread crackdown on civil society, arresting prominent government critics, including human rights defenders and political activists, on fabricated charges of financial irregularities. Spurious charges of economic crimes and «abuse of authority» are commonly used in Azerbaijan to incarcerate leaders of independent NGOs and other critics of the authorities. Amnesty International has documented in detail the arbitrary application of criminal law in recent years in relation to some of the government’s most prominent critics including human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers. While many have been released, having spent years in prison and following international pressure, they continue to face restrictions and harassment by the authorities, including through arbitrary travel restrictions and freezing of their organizations’ bank accounts.

The authorities have stepped up the crackdown on dissent using the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse. In his Novruz Bayrami greetings to the nation on 19 March, President Ilham Aliyev alluded to political opposition in Azerbaijan as «traitors» and promised «new rules» for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic threatening «to clear» Azerbaijan of its «enemies» and to «isolate the fifth column». Several high-profile arrests of political and civil activists under spurious charges have followed Ilham Aliyev’s pronouncement, including the arrest of opposition activist Tofig Yagublu under charges of hooliganism (see here: https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/EUR55/2029/2020/en/).

As the arrests and politically motivated prosecution of critics continue, Azerbaijan remains closed to human rights scrutiny. International human rights monitors, including Amnesty International, have been denied access to the country for several years.

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