The IBAHRI undertook a fact-finding mission to Azerbaijan in December 2013, to assess the extent to which fair trial rights are adhered to during so called 'freedom of expression' cases. The week-long mission took place in response to increasing scrutiny over Azerbaijan's restrictive stance on freedom of expresion, including reports that human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists are being arrested, detained and sentenced on 'trumped up charges'. Click here to watch a short film providing a summary of the report, its findings and recommendations, and includes contributions from the delegates who visited Azerbaijan on the fact-finding mission of December 2013.
The mission report Azerbaijan: Freedom of Expression on Trial was published in May 2014. Noting that a fundamental part of a country’s criminal justice framework is its legal profession, the report examines the role of the Azerbaijani legal profession, and in particular the Bar Association of Azerbaijan, in protecting fundamental freedoms. The report finds that a shortage of defence advocates, particularly those willing to represent journalists who have been critical of the government, is a major obstacle to fairness of trials. The report further examines the role of the judiciary in safeguarding the right to a fair trial and the role of the government in protecting the rights of journalists. In order to strengthen the rule of law in Azerbaijan, 16 specific recommendations to key stakeholders are made. Read more
Click here to download the report - English language version
Click here to download the report - Azerbaijani language version
Report launch, Baku, May 2014
Azerbaijan: Freedom of Expression on Trial was launched on 2 May 2014, at a high-level panel event in Baku, Azerbaijan. The event was moderated by IBAHRI Programme Lawyer Nadia Hardman, the event opened with a keynote address from the British Embassy in Azerbaijan, Chargé d'Affaires Adrian Lee. Speakers included Eric Metcalfe, Barrister at Monckton Chambers, London, and IBAHRI Azerbaijan mission rapporteur; and Mark Stephens CBE, Solicitor specialising in media law, intellectual property rights, defamation, and human rights; Partner at HowardKennedyFsi, London; and IBAHRI Council Member. The panel discussed the main findings and conclusions of the IBAHRI fact-finding mission, which provides a detailed examination of the various procedural guarantees of a fair trial under Azerbaijani law and notes serious deficiencies in cases concerning journalists. Read more