22 October 2010
President Ilham Aliyev
The Presidential Palace
Istiqlaliyyat Street 19
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Dear President Aliyev,
ARTICLE 19, Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom House, Human Rights House Foundation, Index on Censorship, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, International Federation of Journalists, Media Diversity Institute, Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Reporters Without Borders, and World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers are writing to express our strong concern regarding the continued imprisonment of Editor-inchief Eynulla Fatullayev, which constitutes a breach of Azerbaijan’s international legal obligations and a violation of Mr Fatullayev’s rights.
As a member state of the Council of Europe and a party to the European Convention on Human Rights, Azerbaijan is obligated to comply with judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. As you are aware, on 22 April this year, the European Court ruled that Mr Fatullayev’s imprisonment constituted a violation of his freedom of expression and right to a fair trial and ordered the Azerbaijani Government to immediately release him and to pay him €27,822 for damages and legal expenses. Since the request of the Azerbaijani Government to have the case referred to the Grand Chamber was rejected on 4 October, the European Court’s decision in the case has become effective.
We are deeply disturbed by the latest charge against Mr Fatullayev of drug possession, for which he currently remains in prison. As Miklos Haraszti publicly stated as OSCE Representative for Freedom of the Media in December 2009, this charge is “highly improbable”, and “aimed at pre-empting the European Court of Human Rights’ [then] expected verdict”.
We call upon your government to fully comply with the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment, including by immediately and unconditionally releasing Mr Fatullayev. We further urge your government to do its utmost to ensure Mr Fatullayev’s health and safety in detention, in accordance with Azerbaijan’s international legal obligations.
Agnès Callamard, Executive Director, ARTICLE 19
Joel Simon, Executive Director, Committee to Protect Journalists
Paula Schriefer, Director of Advocacy, Freedom House
Ane Tusvik Bonde, Regional Manager for Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, Human Rights House Foundation
Rohan Jayasekera, Associate Editor and Deputy Chief Executive, Index on Censorship
Tony Borden, Executive Director, Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Aidan White, General Secretary, International Federation of Journalists
Milica Pesic, Executive Director, Media Diversity Institute
Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General, Norwegian Helsinki Committee
Jean-François Julliard, Secretary General, Reporters Without Borders
Virginie Jouan, Executive Director, Press Freedom and Media Development, World
Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA)
CC: Minister of Justice Fikrat Mammadov
Inshaatchilar Avenue 1
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