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Azerbaijan: Arrest and detention of activists breached human rights law

Activists, arrested and detained by Azerbaijan authorities, who claimed they wer supplying Molotov cocktails, have been awarded €80,000 by human rights judges.

The case Rashad Hasanov and Others v. Azerbaijan (applications nos. 48653/13, 52464/13, 65597/13, and 70019/13) concerned the detention of the applicants, Rashad Zeynalabdin oglu Hasanov, Zaur Araz oglu Gurbanli, Uzeyir Mahammad oglu Mammadli, and Rashadat Fikrat oglu Akhundov Akhundov, who are civil society activists, on charges of obtaining and supplying Molotov cocktails.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court found in particular that the charges against the applicants, who are members of a nongovernmental organisation called NIDA, were inconsistent and had lacked clarity, with no evidence being presented to back up the investigators and prosecutors’ accusations.

It ruled that the applicants had been detained without a reasonable suspicion that they had committed an offence.

The court also held, unanimously, that there had been a violation of Article 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights) finding that the action taken against the applicants had been because they were members of NIDA, which had been part of a wider crackdown on civil society in Azerbaijan.

It awarded each applicant 20,000 euros in compensation for non-pecuniary damage.

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