Azerbaijan: New blow for justice as lawyers excluded from trials

The new regulation intended to target human rights lawyers in Azerbaijan by completely barring them from court proceedings is deep blow for justice in the country said Amnesty International today.

The amendments to the Code of Civil and Administrative Procedure which came into force today exclude lawyers from court proceedings unless they are members of the Bar Association (Collegium of Lawyers) of Azerbaijan. With human rights lawyers facing harassment and disbarment, and the independence of the Bar Association of Azerbaijan seriously undermined in recent years, this is the latest in the series of restrictive means deployed by the government to hinder the work of lawyers and erode further the right to a fair trial in Azerbaijan.

“Azerbaijan is plunging ever deeper into the abyss of rightlessness and this new regulation delivers a new deep blow for justice. In a country where innocent criticism of the authorities, even on social media, is already a fast track to prison any chance of a fair trial is now more elusive than ever,” said Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Regional Office.

Azerbaijan is plunging ever deeper into the abyss of rightlessness
Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International

“The few brave lawyers who currently dare to confront the authorities in court about violations of freedom of expression and torture are already routinely harassed and disbarred. But now the Azerbaijani authorities have a new trick on their books to completely exclude these courageous front-line human rights defenders from court proceedings, effectively eliminating any last hope for justice.”