On this day – 30 July 2021 – Azerbaijan celebrates the Day of profession of lawyers of the Republic of Azerbaijan, a day during which lawyers are placed in the limelight. Lawyers for Lawyers uses this day to reflect on and assess the current situation for human rights lawyers in Azerbaijan.
Current situation in Azerbaijan
Lawyers for Lawyers has long been concerned about the attempts to harass and disrupt the work of lawyers in Azerbaijan. These lawyers often work on cases that engage human rights or represent persons perceived to be critics of the Azerbaijani authorities. As a result of these proceedings, the right of Azerbaijani lawyers to perform their professional activities without hindrance isoften disregarded. Moreover, the corresponding rights of their clients to a fair trial (for example, the right to prepare an adequate defense, the right to a counsel of one’s own choosing, and the right to lawyer-client confidentiality) are frequently disrespected.
Harassment and criminal prosecution of lawyers
The abovementioned concerns are laid down in our recent Universal Period Review (UPR) mid-term report. In the report we furthermore mention cases of harassment and criminal prosecution of lawyers.
One of the lawyers mentioned in the report is Intigam Aliyev, a human rights lawyer who has submitted a great number of applications revolving around the right to fair trial, free speech and election rigging to the European Court of Human Rights. Unfortunately, Ms. Aliyev has been subjected to harassment and criminal prosecution in the past and, more recently, has been sanctioned with a travel ban due to an alleged failure to pay a tax debt from 2011-2014.
Another example of criminal prosecution of lawyers in Azerbaijan is the case of Elchin Mammad, who was arrested on 30 March 2020. Only a few days earlier, Mr. Mammad published a critical report on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. On 15 October 2020, Mr. Mammad was sentenced to four years in prison under the charges of “theft causing significant damage” and “illegal purchase and possession of firearm accessories”. Consequently, Mr. Mammad is currently unable to carry out his work as a lawyer. It has been reported that Mr. Mammad was transferred to the Main Medical Department of the Ministry of Justice on 12 June 2021, after allegedly not having received adequate medical care while in detention.