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Azerbaijan: Court declares investigation into murder of journalist Elmar Huseynov was “inadequate”

An inadequate investigation into the death of prominent Azerbaijan journalist Elmar Huseynov, has forced human rights judges to award €20,000 to his widow.

Under the terms of the just satisfaction (Article 41) ruling in the case Huseynova v. Azerbaijan (application no. 10653/10),the European Court of Human Rights held that Azerbaijan was to pay 20,000 euros (EUR) in respect of nonpecuniary damage and EUR 10,000 for costs and expenses to Rushaniya Huseynova, whose husband was shot dead outside their apartment as he returned home from work on 2 March 2005,

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously,that there had been:

no violation of Article 2 (right to life) of the European Convention on Human Rights,

but

a violation of Article 2 (right to life/investigation).

The court found that there was a lack of evidence to prove the allegation that the State had in some way been involved in the murder of Ms Huseynova’s husband, or that the authorities had known or ought to have known about a real risk to his life and had failed to take measures to protect him.

However, the court considered that the investigation into the murder had not been effective, adequate or prompt, having so far lasted more than 12 years. It identified a number of shortcomings in the investigation, namely: that the Azerbaijani authorities had not taken all the measures available to them to ensure that the two suspects identified, Georgian nationals, be prosecuted, such as transferring the criminal case to the Georgian authorities;

that Huseynova had constantly been denied access to the case file by the authorities; and, that no adequate steps had been taken to explore whether Huseynov’s murder, apparently very carefully planned, could have been linked to his work as journalist, despite his strongly critical articles of both the Azerbaijani Government and the opposition.

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