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konfransThe Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) condemns in the strongest terms the conviction of Intigam Aliyev, a famous Azerbaijani human rights lawyer, who was sentenced yesterday to seven years and six months of imprisonment by the Baku Grave Crimes Court.

Mr Aliyev is a well-known human rights lawyer and long-term partner of the Council of Europe. He has represented applicants in more than 200 cases before the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), concerning, inter alia, the right to free elections, and the rights to freedom of expression and association. Some of them are still pending. He was also the leader of the Legal Education Society and co-ordinator of the Council of Europe’s HELP (Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals) programme.

Mr Aliyev was convicted for “tax evasion”, “abuse of powers”, “conducting illegal business”, “misappropriation” and “official forgery” in relation to his activities as a NGO leader and human rights lawyer. During his trial, international trial observers reported many procedural irregularities, including violations of the right to defence. It was also reported that since the beginning of his detention on remand, his health has severely deteriorated.

This is the second conviction of a prominent human rights activist within a week, shortly after that of human rights activist Rasul Jafarov. Trials against other prominent activists, including Leyla and Arif Yunus and Khadiya Ismayilova, are still pending.

The committee is extremely concerned by the conviction of Intigam Aliyev, which it considers to be a political reaction to his activities as a human rights lawyer and his co-operation with international institutions. It considers that this verdict also puts at risk the right of persons in Azerbaijan to lodge complaints before the ECtHR.

The committee joins the Council of Europe Commissioner in his condemnation of a “clear pattern of repression in Azerbaijan against those expressing dissent or criticism of the authorities” and reprisals against those who co-operate with international institutions, including the Council of Europe. It urges the authorities to stop the crackdown on civil society.
A complaint concerning Mr Aliyev’s arrest and the criminal proceedings against him is pending before the European Court of Human Rights; the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights made a third party intervention in his case.

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