On 14 March 2016, international legal counsel for Khadija Ismayilova, Amal Clooney and Nani Jansen, submitted their observations on the admissibility and merits of Ismayilova v. Azerbaijan (Application no. 30778/15) to the European Court of Human Rights.
Khadija is an investigative journalist and outspoken critic of the Azerbaijani government who throughout her career has exposed evidence of high-level corruption by the Azerbaijani President and his family. As a result she has been subjected to increasingly repressive forms of harassment by the government. This culminated in her arrest on sham charges, 9 months of unjustified pre-trial detention and ultimately her conviction and 7.5 year sentence in a state-sponsored showtrial.
Counsel have filed the observations in response to the Azerbaijani Government’s filing of 15 January 2016 following Khadija’s application to the Court.
They argue that there is no reasonable suspicion that Khadija committed any of the crimes she was charged with and no justification for her detention. The submissions show instead that the real purpose of her detention was political: to silence her criticism of the government and to stop her from exposing further evidence of government corruption. Counsel also submit that Khadija’s presumption of innocence was denied throughout domestic proceedings and that her right to counsel and the independence of the courts were compromised. Counsel argue that the record also discloses that Khadija was discriminated against on the basis of her political opinions and that she was denied an effective remedy in the Azerbaijani courts. Accordingly, Khadija claims that her rights under Articles 5, 6, 10, 13, 14 and 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights have been violated.
Khadija has requested that the Court order her immediate release and that the Court hold a hearing in the case.
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