Council of Europe launches infringement proceedings against Azerbaijan over imprisonment of politician

Azerbaijan is refusing to comply with the European Court of Human Rights to release opposition politician Ilgar Mammadov from detention over alleged bribery charges

Ilgar Mammadov
Ilgar Mammadov

The Council of Europe’s committee of ministers has launched infringement proceedings against Azerbaijan for its refusal to release an opposition politician.

The 47-state group of European nations, based in Strasbourg, said Azerbaijan continued to refuse to ensure the unconditional release of opposition politician Ilgar Mammadov following a judgment from the European Court of Human Rights in 2014.

Azerbaijan is also a trading partner of Malta, where the state-owned gas company SOCAR is a 33% owner of the gas plant providing LNG electricity to Enemalta plc.

In the first use of a procedure introduced in 2010, the committee of ministers formally asked the European Court of Human Rights to decide whether Azerbaijan has failed to fulfil its obligation to abide by the court’s judgment in this case.

In May 2014, the court concluded that no information had been produced in the domestic criminal proceedings giving rise to a suspicion justifying the charges against Mammadov, or his arrest and pre-trial detention. The court found the actual purpose of these measures was to silence or punish him for criticising the government.

In the judgment, the court found violations of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Since December 2014, the Committee of Ministers has adopted numerous decisions and interim resolutions stressing the fundamental flaws in the criminal proceedings revealed by the European court’s May 2014 judgment and calling for Mammadov’s immediate and unconditional release.

However, over three years since the court’s judgment became final, Mammadov remains in detention on the basis of the flawed criminal proceedings.

Council of Europe member states are obliged to implement judgments from the European Court of Human Rights. The Committee of Ministers is responsible for overseeing the implementation of judgments from the court

In 2010, a new procedure was introduced according to which the Committee of Ministers can ask the court to decide whether a member state’s failure to implement a judgment represents a further violation of the convention

On 25 October 2017, the Committee of Ministers adopted an interim resolution giving notice of its intention to refer Azerbaijan’s compliance with the Ilgar Mammadov judgment to the court and asking Azerbaijan to submit its views; these views were appended to the interim resolution adopted by the Committee of Ministers.

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