Politically Motivated Trials in Azerbaijan on the Rise

October 1, 2019

Over the past year, Azerbaijan has experienced 57 politically motivated court trials, an increase over the previous annual reporting period, according to a report released on September 14, 2019, by the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS). Civil society organizations in Azerbaijan have long urgently called for reform of the judiciary, but this report notes that political activists are still being denied their right to a fair trial.

For example, trials are held very quickly, which prevents lawyers from developing a defense of the accused activists. Defense lawyers allege that their requests and questions during the trials are dismissed without any reason provided. Courts also don’t substantiate their decisions, as happened with the conviction of Vidadi Rustamli and Ruslan Nasirov on charges of “illegal financing” of the youth committee of the Presidium of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan. Additionally, the report notes that many court rulings repeated almost verbatim the charges presented by the prosecutor and governmental authorities, therefore undermining the court’s claim of impartiality. Complaints from these activists have not been investigated by the judiciary, and their relatives have been targeted by the government for harassment. The EMDS notes that deep reform of the court system in Azerbaijan will be necessary before citizens can expect to receive fair trials. Read the report to learn more

Region: Eurasia | Topic: Rule of Law, Strengthening Political Institutions