Prominent Azerbaijani human rights lawyer Shahla Humbatova has vowed to fight disbarment procedures against her despite what she says is a campaign of ‘harassment and threats’ from the Bar Association.
The Azerbaijani Bar Association has accused Humbatova of submitting a fake document as evidence during a civil case she was litigating, a criminal offence. They have also accused her of owing ₼460 ($270) in membership fees.
The association has taken her to court in an attempt to disbar her, which would strip her of the right to practice law.
Humbatova is well known in Azerbaijan for taking on high-profile human rights cases, including those of queer Azerbaijanis as well as blogger Mehman Huseynov. The move to disbar her follows the disbarment of dozens of other human rights lawyers in recent years, leaving few remaining lawyers taking on such cases.
Speaking with OC Media, Humbatova insisted the accusations were politically motivated.
She said the allegation she submitted fake documents was baseless, and that her defence had submitted evidence proving this.
She also said that Anar Baghirov, Chair of the Presidium of the Bar Association, had already requested that the Prosecutor’s office investigate this. Earlier this year the Anti Corruption Department found no evidence of a crime in her actions.
She confirmed that she had owed eight months of membership fees, but insisted the association did not make any effort to notify her of this.
‘I learned about this from the media the day after the Board’s decision [to take me to court]’, she said.
Humbatova stated that she immediately made the payment, so when the Bar went to court with her disbarment request, there was no longer any debt.