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Azerbaijan: Student’s YouTube human rights breach leads to €22,500 award

A student’s arrest and detention for allegedly filming a dance and uploading it onto Youtube was not lawful , human rights judges have declared.

In its 7 March judgment, in the case of Rustamzade v. (application no. 38239/16) 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.

As Just satisfaction (Article 41), the court held that Azerbaijan was to pay the applicant  Ilkin Bakir oglu Rustamzade 20,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 2,500 in respect of costs and expenses.

The case concerned student Rustamzade’s arrest and detention in 2013 for allegedly filming some friends dancing in a park and uploading the video of it to YouTube.

He was charged with hooliganism and spent one year in pre-trial detention.

Rustamzade was convicted in 2014 as charged, as well as of mass disorder and arms offences which had in the meantime been added to the list of charges, and sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment.

The court found in particular that the facts relied on in the domestic proceedings could not reasonably be considered to constitute criminal behaviour as defined under domestic law or as interpreted by the higher courts.

Rustamzade had therefore been arrested and detained without a reasonable suspicion that he had committed a criminal offence.

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