Rasul Jafarov, member of the REAL board, has written on his Facebook page that the decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the second case of ‘Ilgar Mammadov v Azerbaijan’, has come into force and has to be carried out within three months.
A court decision from 16 November 2017 had ruled that Mammadov’s right to a fair trial according to Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated. The Azerbaijani government disputed the decision, but on 6 March, a panel of five ECHR judges rejected the complaint. According to this latest decision, the November 2017 ruling is final and has to be carried out within three months.
Ilgar Mammadov, leader of the REAL civic movement, was arrested in February 2013 following protests in the town of Ismayilli on 23 and 24 January, which he had reported on. He was charged and convicted of mass disorder and on 17 March 2014 sentenced to seven years in prison.
The ECHR has already ruled in 2014 that Mammadov had been arrested without reasonable evidence and was imprisoned as a punishment for criticizing the government. The court ruled that Articles 5.1 and 5.4 (right to liberty and security), Article 6.2 (right to the presumption of innocence) and Article 18 (limitation on the use of restriction of rights) of the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated.
Even though the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers has repeatedly called for the immediate and unconditional release of Mammadov, the Azerbaijani government refuses to do so. After an official notice two months prior, the ECHR in December 2017 launched infringement proceedings against Azerbaijan. Introduced in 2010, this is the first time that this procedure is used.
When triggering Article 46 (binding force and enforcement of judgments), the Committee of Ministers, which has the responsibility of supervising the execution of ECHR judgments, can refer the question of whether a country complies with a final ECHR ruling or not directly to the court. If the ECHR’s Grand Chamber, its highest judicial formation, finds that Azerbaijan has not complied with its 2014 judgment in the Mammadov case, the Committee of Ministers are to adopt appropriate measures, such as sanctions or the exclusion of Azerbaijan from the Council of Europe.
On 22 December, the ECHR gave the Azerbaijani government another chance in the Mammadov case. A letter the ECHR sent to the Committee of Ministers, the government of Azerbaijan and Ilgar Mammadov’s lawyer Fuad Agayev says that they can submit written comments until 31 March 2018.