Opposition leader fighting sentence
Tofig Yagublu is a journalist and a prominent member of opposition party Musavat and he has faced years of harassment for his peaceful activism.
He was first arrested in 2013 after traveling to the city of Ismayili, in northern Azerbaijan, on 23- 24 January 2013, to observe demonstrations and riots that were taking place there at the time. In March 2014, following unfair trial under politically-motivated charges, the Shaki Court of Grave Crimes found him guilty of inciting mass violence and sentenced him to five years in prison. Amnesty International recognised Tofig Yagublu prisoner of conscience.
On 5 November 2015, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that by depriving Tofig Yagublu of his liberty without having reasonable suspicion of a criminal offense, Azerbaijan violated his rights under Article 5 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights (Yagublu v. Azerbaijan, application no. 31709/13). Tofig Yagublu was released in March 2016 under a presidential pardon after spending more than three years in prison.
In October 2019, he was placed in “administrative detention” for 30 days for purportedly failing to obey police orders, at a peaceful protest rally brutally dispersed by police. Tofig Yagublu alleged that he was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment while in detention, but his allegations have never been effectively investigated.
For years, Amnesty International has been documenting human rights violations in Azerbaijan. The rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly have been severely restricted and many journalists, human rights defenders and other activists have faced harassment, prosecution under false charges and imprisonment following unfair trials. According to Azerbaijani human rights defenders, currently, around 100 individuals remain in prisons or in detention following arrest under politically motivated charges. This practise has repercussions throughout civil society in Azerbaijan, creating a climate of fear and self-censorship. As the arrests and politically motivated prosecution of critics continue, Azerbaijan remains closed to human rights scrutiny. International human rights monitors, including Amnesty International, have been denied access to the country for several years.