Azerbaijan: State fails to deliver justice for Facebook activist

The Azerbaijan Supreme Court today upheld the conviction of the 20-year-old political activist Jabbar Savalan. The news was greeted with disappointment by Amnesty International, who have been campaigning relentlessly for his release.

Jabbar was jailed for two and a half years on 4 May 2011 after using Facebook to call for protests against the government. He was convicted on drugs charges which Amnesty International believes to have been fabricated.

The evidence against him was questionable. A blood test showed that he had not used drugs and there were credible allegations that the police had planted marijuana on him.

Jabbar is one of 17 prisoners of conscience currently behind bars in Azerbaijan, after the authorities clamped down on peaceful protests in March and April 2011.

John Dalhuisen, Deputy Director for Amnesty International’s Europe and Central Asia Programme, said:

“Azerbaijani courts have once again demonstrated that there is no rule of law in Azerbaijan when political interests are concerned.

“Last month Azerbaijan was elected to the UN Security Council and next year will host the Eurovision song contest, watched by around 125 million people. As the international spotlight falls on Azerbaijan it is high time the government took its international human rights obligations seriously.

“The authorities must immediately release Jabbar Savalan and the 16 other prisoners of conscience currently behind bars.”

After today’s decision of the Supreme Court to uphold Jabbar Savalan’s verdict, Asabali Mustafayev, one of his lawyers told Amnesty International:

“We still had a little hope that the Supreme Court might deliver justice, but their decision was not surprising. Now we have no other choice but to submit his case to the European Court of Human Rights and we will do it as soon as possible.”

Amnesty International is using his case to focus international attention on human rights abuses in Azerbaijan during its Write for Rights campaign, which has already drawn the support of Private Eye editor Ian Hislop.

The campaign in the UK will centre around 9 and 10 December. Thousands of people are expected to take part. Letters can be downloaded now at www.amnesty.org.uk/jabbar

People in over 70 countries will be writing letters and taking action online to demand that his rights are respected.

View latest press releases