The Sabunchi District Court found Sakhladar Iskandarli guilty

The Sabunchi District Court found Sakhladar Iskandarli guilty


Analysis of violation of law during Sakhladar Iskandarli’s judicial proceedings

Sabunchi District Court, Baku

Criminal case № 3(008)-1817/2019

August 20, 2019

Judge:  Ziya Shirinov

The person against whom the administrative report was drawn up: Sakhladar Iskandarli

The person who drafted the administrative report: Cherkes Panakhov

On the 18th of August 2019, Sakhladar Iskandarli, a member of the Surakhani branch of the Popular Front Party of Azerbaijan (PFPA), held a single picket near the “May 28” subway station in Baku demanding the resignation of the president and release of political prisoners. S. Iskandarli held a poster with the following words “The resignation of dictator Ilham Aliyev” and “Freedom to political prisoners”. On August 20, 2019, at 12.05 a.m., S. Iskandarli wrote a post on his Facebook page that the police came to his house looking for him. However, he was not at home at that time and the police left. S. Iskandarli added that the visit of the police officers was most likely connected with his carried out solitary rally. The very same day, at around 20:16, members of the APFP posted on social media an announcement that Sakhladar Iskandarli had been kidnapped by the police officers. On 21st of August 2019, the arrest of S. Iskandarli was reported.
Until the 22nd of August 2019, S. Iskandarli’s family and friends were not informed either of the reasons for his detention or the location. The information concerning an administrative arrest of the young activist was published in the press. According to the detainee’s family members, Sakhladar Iskandarli was held in the Main Department for Combating Organized Crime of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Azerbaijan.
According to the administrative protocol drawn up by the district policeman of the 12th police station of the Baku Sabunchi District police department Sakhladar Iskandarli was invited to the police station to have a test in order to check the presence of drugs in his blood. However, he did not comply with the police demands. On August20, 2019, he was forcibly taken to the Drug Dispensary. The test showed a presence of drugsin his blood.
Sakhladar Iskandarli was charged with administrative offences under the Articles 206 (abuse of alcohol, narcotic or psychotropic substances) and 535.1 (failure to comply with the legal requirements of a police officer) of the Administrative Offences Code of the Republic of Azerbaijan. 
On the 20th of August 2019, the Baku Sabunchi District Court found S. Iskandarli guilty of committing the alleged offences and sentenced him to 60 days of administrative arrest.

Commentary by an expert lawyer:

The court decision is illegal and unjustified. The abduction, the lack of official contact with relatives concerning Iskandarli’s whereabouts indicates that the arrest of S. Iskandarli is linked to his single rally of political demands.
In this case, one of the fundamental rights of an Azerbaijani citizen is violated, namely the right to freedom of expression. According to the Article 47 of the Constitution of Azerbaijan Republic, “I. Everyone may enjoy freedom of thought and speech”.
The right to freedom of expression is enshrined in the Article 10 (1) of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. According to this article, everyone has the right to freely express his/her opinion.
According to the Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights:
1. Everyone has the right to hold opinions without interference.
2. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression; this right includes freedom to seek,    receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any media of his choice.
According to the Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media  and regardless of frontiers.
S. Iskandarli, using the constitutional right, expressed his opinion by means of a single rally, and within 2 days he was kidnapped and later arrested for 60 days.
The right to freedom of expression like most human rights, has its limitations, the list of which is exhaustive. Under the International Law, restrictions on freedom of expression must meet three conditions: they must be strictly in line with the law, pursue a legitimate aim and be necessary and adequate to achieve that aim. In this case, although the police officers did not intervene to stop his picket, the subsequent arrest of S. Iskandarli was precisely an interference with the right to freedom of expression.
In accordance with judgment of European Court of Human Rights (ECHR): “The Court considers that the principles set out in paragraph  51 above also apply to measures taken by national authorities to maintain national security and public safety as part of the fight against terrorism. In this connection, it must, with due regard to the circumstances of each case and a State’s margin of appreciation, ascertain whether a fair balance has been struck between the individual’s fundamental right to freedom of expression and a democratic society’s legitimate right to protect itself against the activities of terrorist organizations” (Judgment of ECHR Case of Zana v. Turkey from 25 November 1997, paragraph 55) ({\”{“itemid”:[“001-58115)


As can be seen from the ECHR regulation, even in the case of combating terrorism, the right to freedom of expression cannot be restricted, except in cases provided for by law.
Procedural violations also concerned Article 91 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Azerbaijan Republic. In accordance with this article, the authorized body (official) takes the following measures to ensure the rights of the detainee established by this Code. The Article 91.0 of the Code:
            91.0.1. Immediately inform the detainee of the grounds for detention and explain   his rights;
91.0.2. introduces the detainee to the protocol of administrative offence;
91.0.3. upon the detainee’s request, inform his/her close relatives, the administration of  the detainee’s work or study places, or his/her lawyer about the detention;
91.0.4. immediately inform parents or other legal representatives of a minor detainee  about the detention;
91.0.5. treat the detainee with respect to his/her dignity;
91.0.6. allow the detainee to maintain contact with his lawyer including legal visits;
91.0.7. in case of the detainee’s without a lawyer, provide him/her with a list of lawyers working in the structures of temporary detention places, enable him/her to maintain contact with the chosen lawyer as well as legal visits.

None of these rights were respected with regard to S. Iskandarli during his detention.
Right for freedom was violated towards S. Iskandarli. This right is prescribed by Article 28 of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic:
I. Everyone has the right for freedom.
II. Right for freedom might be restricted only as specified by law, by way of detention, arrest or imprisonment.

According to the Article 5 (1) of European Convention on Human Rights, everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. The list of restrictions of this Article is very clear  and cannot be interpreted broadly. Thus, according to the Article, no one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:

(a) the lawful detention of a person after conviction by a competent court;
(b) the lawful arrest or detention of a person for non-compliance with the lawful order of a court or in order to secure the fulfilment of any obligation prescribed by law;
(c) the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his committing an offence or fleeing after having done so;
(d) the detention of a minor by lawful order for the purpose of educational supervision or his lawful detention for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority;
(e) the lawful detention of persons for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases, of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts or vagrants;
          (f) the lawful arrest or detention of a person to prevent his effecting an unauthorized entry into the country or of a person against whom action is being taken with a view to  deportation or extradition.

As can be seen from the list of restrictions, none of these restrictions occurred in the case of Sakhladar Iskandarli. And it means that the arrest of the young activist had no legitimate purpose and therefore  it was not legitimate