Jailed Azerbaijani lawyer ‘should be released immediately’

Jailed Azerbaijani lawyer 'should be released immediately'

Elchin Sadykov

A prominent human rights lawyer jailed in Azerbaijan should be released immediately, the Council of Europe’s commissioner for human rights has said.

Elchin Sadykov, a well-known human rights defender, was arrested last Saturday alongside one of his clients client, journalist Avaz Zeynalli.

Dunja Mijatović, the commissioner for human rights, said Mr Sadykov “has been the target of continuous intimidation and harassment for his legitimate human rights work, just like many other activists in Azerbaijan”.

She said: “The overnight trial ordering Mr Sadykov’s and Mr Zeynalli’s detention in remand raises serious questions of compatibility with European human rights standards.

“It was held behind closed doors and in the absence of basic procedural guarantees, which reinforces doubts on the credibility of their prosecution and imprisonment.

“The arrest of Mr Sadykov followed searches of his work premises and the seizure of confidential information, which should be protected by legal professional privilege.

“These acts further aggravate the chilling effect on human rights lawyers and defenders in Azerbaijan and on freedom of expression, including media freedom, an issue of long-standing concern in Azerbaijan.”

Ms Mijatović has called on the Azerbaijani authorities to release both Mr Sadykov and Mr Zeynalli immediately “and to fully ensure respect for their rights and liberties”.

She added: “Intimidation and harassment of civil society actors and independent journalists in Azerbaijan must stop immediately. It is the duty of the authorities to ensure that human rights defenders and media professionals can carry out their work safely and freely.”

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