Azerbaijan: Prisoner of conscience Ilgar Mammadov’s early release is long overdue

Responding to news that an Azerbaijani court has released political activist Ilgar Mammadov after five years behind bars and handed him a two-year suspended sentence, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia said:

“Politically motivated prosecutions have become the hallmark of Azerbaijan’s  ‘justice’ system. Ilgar Mammadov’s case has become symbolic of the enduring injustice and brutal reprisals against government critics, dozens of whom remain behind bars and with no hope of a fair trial.

Ilgar Mammadov’s case has become symbolic of the enduring injustice and brutal reprisals against government critics
Marie Struthers, Amnesty International's Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

“We have been calling for Ilgar Mammadov’s immediate and unconditional release for more than five years. The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that he should be free, but Baku has ignored this binding decision, together with repeated calls from the Council of Europe to respect it. The Azerbaijani authorities must immediately quash Ilgar Mammadov’s conviction and ensure he has access to adequate reparations, including compensation, for his unlawful imprisonment.”

The Azerbaijani authorities must immediately quash Ilgar Mammadov’s conviction and ensure he has access to adequate reparations, including compensation, for his unlawful imprisonment
Marie Struthers, Amnesty International's Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Background

Ilgar Mammadov was arrested on 4 February 2013 on charges of inciting mass violence, after he travelled to report on street riots which had broken out in northwest Azerbaijan the previous day. He was sentenced to seven years in jail a year later.

On 13 August 2018, the Shaki Court of Appeals had his sentence reviewed. The court replaced the two remaining years of Ilgar Mammadov’s seven-year jail term with a suspended sentence.

The Azerbaijani authorities ignored several requests for Ilgar Mammadov’s immediate release by the Council of Europe following a European Court of Human Rights’ ruling that he had been prosecuted and imprisoned without any evidence of his alleged crime, and that the actual purpose of his detention had been to silence and punish him for criticizing the government.

On 7 December 2017, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe launched infringement proceedings against Azerbaijan. It was the first time that the organization has used this procedure.