In the first use of a procedure introduced in 2010, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has formally asked the court to decide whether Azerbaijan has failed to fulfil its obligation to abide by the court's judgment in the case of Azerbaijani opposition personality Ilgar Mammedov. The procedure may lead to Azerbaijan being suspended or expelled from membership of the European body.
"The Committee of Ministers of the 47-nation Council of Europe has launched infringement proceedings against Azerbaijan due to the authorities' continuing refusal to ensure the unconditional release of opposition politician Ilgar Mammadov following a judgment from the European Court of Human Rights in 2014", said a statement from the Council of Europe on Tuesday (5 December).
The statement added:
"In the first use of a procedure introduced in 2010, the committee has formally asked the court to decide whether Azerbaijan has failed to fulfil its obligation to abide by the court's judgment in this case.
In May 2014, the court concluded that no facts or information had been produced in the domestic criminal proceedings giving rise to a suspicion justifying the bringing of charges against Mr Mammadov, or his arrest and pre-trial detention. The court found that the actual purpose of these measures was to silence or punish him for criticising the government.
In the judgment, the court found violations of Articles 5, 6 and 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Until November 2017, the court found a violation of Article 18 of the convention in only five judgments and in all of those cases, except Ilgar Mammadov v. Azerbaijan, the applicants were released.
Since December 2014, the Committee of Ministers has adopted numerous decisions and interim resolutions stressing the fundamental flaws in the criminal proceedings revealed by the European court's May 2014 judgment and calling for Mr Mammadov's immediate and unconditional release.
However, over three years since the court's judgment became final, the applicant remains in detention on the basis of the flawed criminal proceedings."
photo: Ilgar Mammedov (archive picture)
Azerbaijani media identified him as Bahram Hasanzada, a foreign citizen, and says he "was engaged in espionage according to instructions from foreign services, to the detriment of Azerbaijan's state security".
The report makes a number of recommendations that "aim to guide peace negotiators, policymakers, donors, and national and international civil society activists who work to promote mutual understanding and peace between the societies divided by the Nagorny Karabakh conflict".