Executive Secretary of opposition REAL political movement, under criminal investigation since 12 August 2016
FOCUS: The REAL party, founded in 2009, envisions Azerbaijan as a parliamentary – rather than a presidential – republic. It views the establishing of a democratic society and potential integration into the EU and NATO as major long-term goals of the movement. According to some sources, the activists involved in the movement number around 1200.
ARRESTED: From 12 August 2016 till 9 September 2016 Jafarli was in custody pending trial
CHARGE: Articles 192.1 (illegal business) and 308.2 (abuse of official powers – entailing heavy consequences or committed to influence the outcome of an election or referendum). Jafarli faces up to 8 years in jail if found guilty.
CURRENT STATUS: Jafarli was hold in custody, pending trial from 14 August, when the Nasimi District Court of Baku sentenced Natig to four months of pre-trial detention. On 17 August, the Court of Appeals rejected an appeal for his release. However, on 9 September 2016 Natiq was released from pre-trial detention based on the petition of the Serious Crimes Investigation Department of the Prosecutor General’s Office submitted to the Nasimi District Court. The court changed its previously imposed preventative measure in the form of arrest against Natiq to a prohibition from leaving Baku.
CASE DETAILS: Natig Jafarli was arrested late in the evening on Friday, 12 August 2016. Jafarli’s home was searched during the Friday night and two computers and several legal documents were seized. According to the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety, Jafarli has been locked up for his “peaceful criticism” of the country’s constitutional referendum, which is due to take place in September 2016. Natiq was kept in pre-trial detention from 12 August 2016 till 9 September 2016, when the court based on the petition from the Prosecutor General’s Office changed its previously imposed preventative measure in the form of arrest against Natiq to a prohibition from leaving Baku. The criminal investigation is still ongoing. The charges against Jafarli stem from a criminal case the Prosecutor General’s Office launched against a group of NGOs in 2014. The US Department of State and the EU called for the release of Jafarli.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The REAL movement has long faced pressure and harassment from the Azerbaijani authorities. The head of the REAL party, Ilgar Mammadov, was arrested in February 2013 on politically motivated charges of organising mass disorder and resisting arrest, and was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. On 22 May 2014, European Court recognized violation of Ilgar Mammadov’s rights under Articles 5.1 and 5.4 (right to liberty), 6.2 (presumption of innocence) and 18 (limitation on use of restrictions on rights) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
According to the official page of the organisation, the REAL party is a pro-democracy movement, established in response to a package of Constitutional reforms, passed in March 2009 following a referendum, which included the removal on limits on the preseidential term and re-election.
Compiled by ARTICLE 19 from a variety of sources. Current as of 12/09/2016.