The court denied the journalist’s right to meetings and telephone conversations with close relatives and other persons


Elnara Qasimova

Analysis of violation of law during Elnara Qasimova’s judicial proceedings

Baku City Khatai District Court

Case № 6(011)-32/2024

19 February 2024

Presiding judge: Fuad Akhundov

Defendant: Elnara Qasimova

Defender: Aisha Abdel Qadir

Elnara Qasimova, a 30-year-old woman, was formerly a member of the N!DA Civil Movement, then was active as a journalist. Recently, she has been co-operating with the online resource Abzas Media.

In November 2023, Ulvi Hasanli, the director of the Abzas Media site, was arrested. Later, the following people were arrested: Sevinj Vaqifqizi, the editor-in-chief, Nargiz Absalamova, Muhammad Kekalov, and Hafiz Babaly, an employee of the Turan News Agency. Also, a bit later they arrested: Aziz Orujev, the Executive Director of the Kanal 13, Teymur Karimov, the Head of the YouTube channel Kanal 11, and a number of other journalists.

On 13 January 2024, Elnara Qasimova was included as a suspect in the criminal case against the journalists.

On 15 January 2024, he was charged with committing an offence under the Article 206.3.2 (Smuggling committed on preliminary arrangement by group of persons) of the Criminal Code of the Azerbaijan Republic (AR CC). On the very same day, the Baku City Khatai District Court imposed a preventive measure in the form of detention for 2 months against Elnara Qasimova. Afterwards, E. Qasimova was sent to the Detention Centre No. 1 in the Kyurdakhani settlement.

On 24 January 2024, Togrul Huseynov, an investigator engaged in particularly important cases at the Investigation Division for Serious Crimes within the Investigation and Inquiry Department of the Baku City Police Headquarters, issued an order restricting the meetings between E. Qasimova and her family members as well as with the people representing interest. Moreover, he restricted her right to make telephone calls for a period of 3 months.

A new ruling of the investigator dated 17 February 2024, E. Qasimova was granted the right to meetings and telephone conversations with relatives and other individuals.

Elnara Qasimova’s defence appealed to the Court with a request to void the investigator’s ruling dated 24 January 2024.

On 19 February 2024, the Baku City Khatai District Court issued a ruling: to dismiss the defence complaint filed against the investigator’s order of 24 January 2024 to restrict meetings and telephone conversations for a period of 3 months.


Commentary by expert lawyer:

The court verdict is unlawful and unjustified. As stated above, the investigating authority issued an order to restrict the defendant’s meetings with family members and concerned parties, as well as any telephone calls.

According to the Article 19.6 of the Azerbaijan Republic Legislation “On ensuring the rights and freedoms to persons deprived of liberty”, a detained person has the right to meet with his/her close relatives and those of legitimate interest to them four times a month for up to four hours under supervision and in decent environment”.

It is significant to note Article 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan, where states, that “everyone, from the moment when they are born possesses inviolable and inalienable rights and liberties”.

According to the Article 26 of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan,

The state guarantees protection of rights and liberties of all people.

In addition to the national law in this respect, there are also Recommendations of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, that updated the European Penitentiary Rules in 2006, which must be observed in custodial settings. According to paragraph 1 of the Rules, in dealing with all individuals deprived of their liberty, their human rights should be respected. It is further noted in the paragraph 3:

“Restrictions imposed on individuals deprived of their liberty must be kept to the minimum necessary and consistent with the justified objective with respect to which they were imposed.”

As it is stated in the Regulation, point 24.1: the prisoners shall be allowed to communicate with their families, other individuals and representatives of outside organisations by mail, telephone or other means of communication as much as possible, and they shall be visited by the above-mentioned parties.

Paragraph 4 of the Regulations, it is stated that the visits should be organised in such a manner to enable the prisoners to maintain and strengthen their family relationships as much as possible in a healthy and natural way.

The Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners were adopted by the UN Congress in 1955. In the Paragraph 37, it is stated that prisoners should be allowed to communicate with their families or reputable friends, either by means of correspondence or visits, at regular time intervals and under appropriate supervision.

Thus, the respective norms of the national and international laws provide provision for the right of prisoners to meet with close relatives and individuals of their interest.

In these and other cases, in order to protect human rights, it is the judicial authorities, who, in accordance with the Article 3 of the Law of the Azerbaijan Republic “On Courts and Judges”, must exercise the administration of justice

Thus, according to the Article 7 of the Law “On Courts and Judges”, everyone is equal before the law and court. Also, in accordance with the Article 25 of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic, the justice in Azerbaijan is carried out on the basis of legal equality of everyone before the law and court, regardless of race, nationality, religion, language, sex, origin, wealth and official status, beliefs, affiliation to the political parties, trade unions and other public organisations.

Therefore, the treatment of all prisoners, including those in detention, must be based on equality.

In the court ruling we are commenting on, there is not a single argument or reasoning to substantiate why an ruling was issued to restrict the external contacts of Elnara Qasimova.

Despite the existence of another investigator’s ruling dated 17 February 2024, the Court did not render any conclusion on the ruling from 24 January 2024, rejecting the rightful complaint.

Either, the Court did not indicate what was the reason for restricting, and further providing the prisoner’s right to external contacts. It merely limited to referring to the ruling issued on 17 February, 2024.