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emin-huseynovOn 7 May 2015, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in favour of human rights defender Mr Emin Huseynov, concerning his complaint of arbitrary detention and ill-treatment by Azerbaijani police.

Emin Huseynov is the founder and chairman of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS). As one of the most active civil society institutions in Azerbaijan, IRFS monitors violations of journalists’ rights and attempts to increase awareness of these violations at national and international levels through statements, special reports and press conferences. Emin Huseynov also guided the establishment of Objective TV, an independent online news source, which provides human rights news from Azerbaijan.

In the judgement of 7 May 2015, the ECHR announced a violation of Huseynov’s rights under Article 3 (prohibition of torture), Article 5 (right to liberty and security,) and Article 11 (freedom of association) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Huseynov’s complaint concerned events which followed his arrest at a Baku cafe in 2008. Huseynov had been attending an event at the Che Guevara club as a journalist. He was arrested along with participants in the event, and detained at the Nasimi district police department. Whilst in detention, the human rights defender was subjected to physical violence leading to his hospitalisation and a constant need for medical treatment. The ECHR found that the human rights defender had been ill-treated during his arrest and whilst in police detention, and that there had been no effective investigation in this respect.

As one of the targets of the crackdown on free speech and civil society that has taken place in Azerbaijan over the past year, Emin Huseynov was forced to take refuge in the Swiss embassy in August 2014, and remains there today. In absentia, he has been charged under Article 192 (illegal business), 213 (tax evasion) and 308 (abuse of authority) of the Criminal Code, and on 19 August 2014 was announced as wanted by state authorities. He faces arrest upon leaving the Swiss embassy.

Front Line Defenders welcomes the decision of European Court on Human Rights and reiterates its call to the Azerbaijani authorities to drop all charges against Emin Huseynov. Front Line Defenders strongly believes that the accusations against him are a direct attempt to prevent him from continuing his legitimate work in defence of human rights.

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