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arif-leyla-yunusOn 11 February 2016, the Yasamal district Court of Baku denied permission to human rights defenders Mr Arif Yunus and Ms Leyla Yunus to leave Azerbaijan in order to get the necessary medical treatment abroad.

Leyla and Arif Yunus are key figures in Azerbaijani civil society. Leyla Yunus is the Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD), an organisation promoting the rule of law and involved, among other issues, in conflict resolution and peace-building between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The human rights defender and her organisation have faced judicial harassment and intimidation in the past. Leyla Yunus was awarded the Theodor Haecker Prizein 2013 in recognition of her work. Arif Yunus works to defend the rights of victims of torture and political prisoners, as well as on a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.On 11 February 2016, the Yasamal district Court of Baku decided not to grant Leyla and Arif Yunus permission to temporarily leave Azerbaijan in order to get the necessary medical treatment abroad. Currently, both human rights defenders are in need of urgent surgeries and medical care. Leyla Yunus suffers from chronic hepatitis, hypertension, diabetes, and a stone in her gallbladder, causing excruciating pain. Arif Yunus has a life-threatening hypertension and severe pain in his neck. They have announced that they wil appeal the decision of the Yasamal district Court.

On 9 December 2015, the Appeal Court of Baku replaced the prison terms previously received by Leyla and Arif Yunus with suspended sentences of 5 years for each of the two human rights defenders. On 13 August 2015 , Leyla and Arif Yunus were convicted by the Court of Grave Crimes in Baku of several charges, including illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion and fraud, and were sentenced to 8 years and six months imprisonment and 7 years imprisonment, respectively.

Front Line Defenders is concerned at the denial of permission to travel, particularly given the deteriorating state of health of Leyla and Arif Yunus.

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