Amal Clooney, a barrister at Doughty Street International specialising in international law and human rights law, has joined Nani Jansen, Legal Director at the Media Legal Defence Initiative, as co-counsel representing Khadija Ismayilova before the European Court of Human Rights in Ismayilova v Azerbaijan (Application no. 30778/15). The appointment of Mrs Clooney as co-counsel was confirmed by Khadija in a signed power of attorney delivered last month.
Khadija is an investigative journalist, human rights defender and outspoken critic of the Azeri government. She uncovered evidence of serious corruption by the Presidential family in Azerbaijan in 2012 and was subjected to extensive harassment and intimidation as a result.
She was arrested in December 2014 on suspicion of ‘inciting another person’s suicide’ and later faced further unfounded charges of tax evasion, ‘illegal entrepreneurship’ and abuse of power. She was repeatedly denied bail and ultimately convicted after a sham trial in September 2015. She is currently serving a seven and a half year sentence in a Baku prison. Observers have dismissed her trial as being politically motivated and part of a broad pattern of increasing restrictions on human rights in Azerbaijan, including curtailing the freedom of the press.
Counsel for Khadija filed an application challenging her detention before the European Court of Human Rights, alleging that her charges and pre-trial detention violated her rights under Articles 5, 6, 10 and 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The application has been accepted by the Court and the Government of Azerbaijan’s response was due on 15 January 2016. Counsel for Khadija have six weeks to reply to the Government’s response and will be requesting that the Court hold a hearing in Strasbourg.
Press inquiries should be directed to Nani Jansen at the Media Legal Defence Initiative (Nani.Jansen@mediadefence.org). Interview requests for Mrs Clooney should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org).