Anar Mammadli, an Azerbaijani human rights advocate

Azerbaijan: Human rights and climate justice advocate arrested ahead of COP29

Responding to the detention of prominent human rights defender Anar Mammadli, who is Head of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre and co-founder of the Climate of Justice Initiative in Azerbaijan, Natalia Nozadze, Amnesty International’s South Caucasus Researcher, said:

“The Azerbaijani authorities must immediately cease their campaign of intimidation against civil society, and stop cynically detaining their critics ahead of the COP29 meeting in Baku in November. This has already led to the dubious criminal prosecution of several prominent activists and journalists. The arrest of renowned human rights defender Anar Mammadli is yet another egregious example of this disturbing trend.”

The Azerbaijani authorities must immediately cease their campaign of intimidation against civil society, and stop cynically detaining their critics ahead of the COP29 meeting in Baku in November

Natalia Nozadze, Amnesty International's South Caucasus Researcher

“His arrest follows a pattern of abuse of the criminal justice system to silence government critics, which include illegal searches, denying access to lawyers, torture and ill-treatment in detention, and arbitrary detentions rubber-stamped by compliant courts. We call for an end to this sustained effort to silence dissent and for Anar Mammadli to be released immediately.”

Background

On 29 April 2024, Anar Mammadli was on the way to pick up his child from nursery when he was apprehended by unidentified masked men and driven away in a black vehicle. According to family members, police then searched Anar Mammadli’s house and allegedly planted money. The Ministry of Internal Affairs confirmed his detention and his sister reported that he is officially suspected of “smuggling by prior conspiracy by a group of persons” under Article 206.3.2 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan, and arrested in connection with the case of Abzas Media. He was reportedly denied access to his lawyer overnight when kept in a temporary detention centre in Baku.

In 2014 Anar Mammadli was recognized as a Prisoner of Conscience by Amnesty International when he was dealt a five-and-a-half-year prison sentence on trumped up charges of tax evasion, illegal entrepreneurship, and abuse of office. He was pardoned in 2016 but has since faced repeated attacks from the authorities and the pro-government media, intensifying in the lead-up to COP29.