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Azerbaijan: Police assault on ‘Demokrat’ newspaper editor breached European human rights laws

A police assault on the editor of Azerbaijan’s Demokrat newspaper was a violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, judges have declared.

In its 24 November judgment in the case of Mustafa Hajili v. Azerbaijan (application no. 42119/12) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

two violations of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

As Just satisfaction (Article 41), the court held that Azerbaijan was to pay the applicant, Mustafa Hajili, 10,000 euros (EUR) in respect of nonpecuniary damage, and EUR 3,000 in respect of costs and expenses.

Hajili was editor-in-chief of the Demokrat newspaper. The case concerned his allegations that, after attempting to attend a protest in Baku’s Fountains Square, he had been arrested by police and assaulted by officers whilst in custody.

The court found in particular that there was no reason to doubt Mustafa Hajili’s version of events: namely, that he had been subjected to a police assault whilst detained in a temporary detention centre in the Nasimi District Police Office, on 2 April 2011.

The court also found that there had been no proper investigation of Mustafa Hajili’s claim of ill-treatment by the domestic authorities. There had therefore been violations of both the substantive and the procedural requirements of Article 3.

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