Situation of lawyers continues to deteriorate
The crackdown on Azeri civil society, NGOs, journalists and lawyers has escalated over the past year, as the date of the Baku European Games approached. Human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and others daring to criticize the Azerbaijani government are faced with harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrest and politically motivated charges.
On May 28, 2015, Members of the European Parliament from all political groups issued a joint statement calling for the unconditional release of political prisoners in Azerbaijan before the starting of the first edition of the European Games. They stressed that “the label ’European’ should be given meaning, in the sense that the European Games should take place while human rights and fundamental freedoms are respected”.
On June 3, 2015, the Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of Media and the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders signed a joint statement calling for athletes to take a stand on human rights issues in Azerbaijan.
Despite these international calls to stop the repression, the situation of human rights defenders, including lawyers, continues to deteriorate.
Lawyers for Lawyers is concerned about the situation of lawyers in Azerbaijan. Lawyers dealing with sensitive cases are subjected to harassment, criminal conviction, or disbarment on improper grounds, presumably, to prevent them from doing their work. In particular, we would like to draw attention to the arbitrary arrest and conviction of lawyer Intigam Aliyev and the harassment and possible disbarment of lawyer Khalid Bagirov and the intimidation of Alaif Hasanov.
The harassment and prosecution of lawyers is a violation of international standards, amongst others the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers. Moreover, it may have a chilling effect as lawyers may be reluctant to defend persons in cases they would consider sensitive.
Lawyers for Lawyers calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to immediately and unconditionally release lawyer Intigam Aliyev and to cease from threatening and (criminally) charging lawyers for exercising their professional activities and their right to freedom of expression as set out in the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
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