To imprison an opposition activist, they use any pretext


Ali Aliyev

Analysis of violation of law during Ali Aliyev’s judicial proceedings

Baku City Yasamal District Court

Case № 1(004)-58/2022

January 13, 2022 

Judge: Huseyn Safarov

Defendant: Ali Aliyev

Defenders: Javad Javadov, Togrul Babayev

Private prosecutors: Emil Jafarov, Ramin Adilov

Ali Aliyev was born in 1967 in Baku, graduated from the Azerbaijan State Medical University, PhD in Biology, and became politically active in 1989 as a member of the Popular Front of Azerbaijan. In 1992, he entered the National Revival Party of Azerbaijan. After stepping down, on 28 May 2006, A.Aliyev and his supporters organized the founding congress of the Citizens and’ Development Party, and he was elected the chairman of the Party. Aliyev was nominated as a presidential candidate in October 2013. However, the Central Election Commission rejected his nomination.

Ali Aliyev, as an opposition activist, was regularly subjected to pressure by the law enforcement authorities of Azerbaijan.

On September 22, 2021, Ali Aliyev was summoned to the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Azerbaijan Republic and warned that serious measures would be taken in case of his illegal comments in the press. In connection with that warning, Ali Aliyev made a public statement saying that he had expected such a pressure, as two of his Facebook profiles had been recently hacked, while there was also pressure at his job. He said that about 20 deputies had spoken out against him and the Party he headed, and that his summons to the Prosecutor General’s Office and warning had been a consequence of his activities. In his statement, Ali Aliyev called on the authorities to abandon such methods of pressure on the opposition.

Another attack on Ali Aliyev occurred on November 6, 2021, when the State Security Service officers came to the Party premises to conduct a search and detained Ali Aliyev. In this regard, Aliyev said that he had testified in a criminal case, but he could not reveal the details of the interrogation in view of his commitment to confidentiality. At the same time, Aliyev said that it was illegal to take him to the State Security Service, as prior to his detention he had received neither a summons nor an official letter of request.

On December 9, 2021, Ali Aliyev appeared on the YouTube channel “Osmanqızı TV” to share his thoughts and assumptions about the explosion of a helicopter at the Garaheybat airfield. He said the following, “The state of our officers allegedly sitting in the helicopter is highly untrustworthy. Personally, I don’t buy it as there is not a single scratch on the officer’s face, just a broken arm. A man who has fallen from a height of 3,000 metres should lose his memory. The absence of scratches or scars on his face, the existence of only broken bones, is not plausible that this man was indeed in the helicopter at the time of accident. The person in the cockpit of the helicopter could not possibly be aware of the cause of the explosion. It is only the pilot who may be able tell where the malfunction was, what kind of problem may have occurred during the operation of the helicopter. Actually, the specific clarification by the injured people on this particular issue indicates that they have been taught what to say about it.”

Let us remind you that on November 30, 2021, the Azerbaijani State Border Guard Service helicopter was conducting a training flight, and as a result of which it crashed. According to the official data, 14 people were killed and two were injured. Those two survivors of the helicopter crash are Emil Jafarov, a lieutenant colonel, and Ramin Adilov, a captain, who considered Ali Aliyev’s statements a slander and filed a private prosecution against him in the court.

They requested the court to initiate criminal proceedings against A.Aliyev in accordance with the Article 147.1 (Slander) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan Republic and to sentence A.Aliyev to imprisonment for a period of 6 months.

It is Aliyev’s above-mentioned statements and opinion that the individual prosecutors took as slander that, in their view, was intended to mislead the public. Emil Jafarov and Ramin Adilov consider that the above statements defame their honor and dignity and undermine their credibility.

Ali Aliyev’s political activities and harsh criticism of the authorities were considered by his lawyers to be the reason behind the criminal charges against him.

Subsequently, as noted above, a criminal case followed on private charges against Emil Jafarov and Ramin Adilov.

On January 13, 2022, the Baku Yasamal District Court issued a verdict against Ali Aliyev: to find A.Aliyev guilty of committing a crime under the Article 147.1 of the Criminal Code of the Azerbaijan Republic, and sentenced him to 5 months’ imprisonment.


Commentary by expert lawyer:

The court verdict is unlawful and unjustified. The Article 147.1 of the Azerbaijan Republic Criminal Code, under which Ali Aliyev is charged, states:

The slander, is distribution of obviously false information which discredit honor and dignity of any person or undermining his reputation in public statement, publicly or in mass media shown products is punished by fine of hundred up to five hundred of the nominal financial unit, or by public works for the term of till two hundred forty hours, or by corrective works for the term of up to one year, or imprisonment for the term of up to six months.

The Article refers to ” deliberately false information defaming the honor and dignity of another person”. In order to understand this, let us clarify what the word “information” means. Information is (1) certain information or information about something, (2) knowledge in a certain field. See:значение-слова/сведение

If we focus our attention on Aliyev’s statements, we clearly see with the naked eye that his statements do not contain any information or data. His statements are nothing but his personal opinion and judgements. Moreover, in his statements, A. Aliyev did not mention anyone’s name, even the names of private prosecutors. He literally said that he had not believed that anyone could survive that kind of catastrophe.

Interestingly, Emil Jafarov and Ramin Adilov are both filing private petitions at the same time, written in the same font, using the same words.

There were also procedural violations in the criminal case. For example, the lawyer Javad Javadov joined the case in the course of the trial. According to the procedures, he submitted an appropriate order and asked for time to get acquainted with the case. The Court granted him only half an hour to get familiarized with the case. In this regard, the defense objected to the Court, but this objection was ignored by the Court.

The defense submitted several important motions in the case to the Court, which were dismissed.

According to the Article 121.2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Azerbaijan Republic,

Reasons shall be given for the decision taken on an application or request, together with an assessment of the applicant’s arguments. Applications and requests for any matters connected with the prosecution to be examined thoroughly, fully and objectively under the required legal procedure, and for the violated rights and legal interests of the parties to the criminal proceedings and of other participants in the proceedings to be restored, may not be rejected.

Moreover, the defense was not given the opportunity to question private prosecutors.

In the course of the trial Aliyev’s health had deteriorated sharply and his blood pressure had increased up to 250/130 at the time of the ambulance’s arrival. However, the judge did not postpone the trial and continued it. The ambulance doctor recommended that A. Aliyev should see a specialist. Despite the lunch break and the doctor’s recommendation, Ali Aliyev was not allowed to leave the court premises.

These measures are incompatible with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, Article 3, which states:

No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

The Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also prohibit inhuman and degrading treatment and torture.

There is no exception to the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment. This Article does not provide scope for any interference by the state. It means that nothing can justify the use of torture, including wars, extreme situations, the fight against terrorism and the mafia, among others.

In the judgment of November 21, 2001, in the case of Al-Adsani v. the United Kingdom, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the Article 3 was defined as follows,

“It has long been recognized within the Convention that the right set out in Article 3 of the Convention, stating that no one shall be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, enshrines one of the fundamental values of a democratic society. It is an absolute right, barring any exception under any circumstances. Of all the treatments prohibited under Article 3 of the Convention, torture has a particular attribute unique to deliberate inhuman treatment causing very serious and cruel suffering”.{“fulltext”:[“\”CASE%20OF%20AL-ADSANI%20v.%20THE%20UNITED%20KINGDOM\””],”documentcollectionid2″:[“GRANDCHAMBER”,”CHAMBER”],”itemid”:[“001-59885”]}


The ECHR judgment in the case of Pretty v the United Kingdom from April 29, 2002, states:

As regards the types of “treatment” which fall within the scope of Article 3 of the Convention, the Court’s case-law refers to “ill-treatment” that attains a minimum level of severity and involves actual bodily injury or intense physical or mental suffering. Where treatment humiliates or debases an individual, showing a lack of respect for, or diminishing, his or her human dignity, or arouses feelings of fear, anguish or inferiority capable of breaking an individual’s moral and physical resistance, it may be characterized as degrading and also fall within the prohibition of Article 3. The suffering which flows from naturally occurring illness, physical or mental, may be covered by Article 3, where it is, or risks being, exacerbated by treatment, whether flowing from conditions of detention, expulsion or other measures, for which the authorities can be held responsible{“fulltext”:[“pretty%20v.italy”],”documentcollectionid2″:[“GRANDCHAMBER”,”CHAMBER”],”itemid”:[“001-60448”]}

At the end of the proceedings against Aliyev, which were highly formal, the lawyers asked the Court to be given three days to prepare a defense speech. The judge declared that the lawyers would be given just five minutes to deliver their speeches. The defense objected to the judge but this objection was left without consideration.

Furthermore, the defendant was not given time to prepare for his last word. Ali Aliyev requested that the trial be postponed due to his state of health. The Court, not taking it into account, after a brief meeting, read out the verdict. According to the Article 342.1 of the Azerbaijan Republic Code of Criminal Procedure, a defendant is given the last word upon completion of the court debate and remarks.

The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Article 6(3), specifies that everyone charged with a criminal offence has the right to have sufficient time as well as the means to prepare his or her defense.

According to the Bangalore Principles of Judicial Conduct, a judge’s impartiality is a prerequisite for his or her proper conduct. It is manifested both in the content of the judgment and in all the proceedings that support it.


The Principles state in the Paragraph 2.5,

A judge shall withdraw from a case if he or she cannot reasonably be expected to make an objective judgment or if an outside observer would suspect that a judge might be unable to decide the case objectively.

Finally, the most important point in this case is the violation of the right to freedom of expression.

According to the Article 47 of the Constitution of the Azerbaijan Republic,

  1. Everyone has the right to defend his/her honor and dignity.
  2. Dignity of a person is protected by state. Nothing must lead to humiliation of dignity of human being.

The Article 10.1 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms states:

Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.

The Right to freedom of expression is also enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 18(1), and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19.

Freedom of political debate is at the core of the democratic society concept. Thus, the press plays a leading role in a state based on law. Thanks to its daily work of informing and attracting attention, freedom of the press endows societies with one of the most sophisticated tools for discovering and making sense of the ideas and attitudes of political leaders.

“A careful distinction must be drawn between facts and value judgments. While the existence of facts can be proved, the existence of value judgments cannot always be proved… In respect of value judgments, this requirement cannot be fulfilled and it infringes freedom of expression itself, which is a fundamental part of the right guaranteed by the Convention. Article 10”. (Judgment of the European Court of Justice in the case of Lingens v. Austria, 8 July 1986).{“fulltext”:[“lingens%20v.”],”documentcollectionid2″:[“GRANDCHAMBER”,”CHAMBER”],”itemid”:[“001-57523”]}

“Freedom of press provides one of the most excellent means for citizens to discover and develop their opinions on the views and attitudes of their political leaders. In particular, it enables politicians to speak out on the public’s preoccupations and it allows everyone to be engaged in free political debate, which is at the very core of the notion of a democratic society” (Castells v Spain judgment from April 23, 1992).{“fulltext”:[“\”CASE%20OF%20CASTELLS%20v.%20SPAIN\””],”documentcollectionid2″:[“GRANDCHAMBER”,”CHAMBER”],”itemid”:[“001-57772”]}

On April 3, 2019, the President of Azerbaijan signed the Decree “On Deepening Reforms in the Judicial and Legal System”. This Decree also dealt with the decriminalization of articles on slander and insult. Decriminalization of such Articles of the Criminal Code as Articles 147 (Slander) and 148 (Insult) is one of the obligations Azerbaijan has undertaken upon becoming a member of the Council of Europe. In return, Azerbaijan is obliged to adopt a Defamation Law. The Human Rights Defenders engaged in protecting press rights have prepared a draft law and submitted it to the Parliament for its consideration. It is noteworthy that these Articles of the Azerbaijan Republic Criminal Code were not applied in practice from 2011 to 2015. However, since 2015, a number of press representatives, political activists and politicians have again been arrested on the basis of the Articles 147 and 148 of the Azerbaijan Republic Criminal Code. Ali Aliyev’s case was not an exception either.

Ali Aliyev exercised his right to freedom of expression by expressing his personal views concerning the helicopter crash without mentioning any names. His remarks were of an evaluative nature and expressed only his opinion. Due to the fact that there is no Defamation Law and the practical application of the Article 147 of the Azerbaijan Republic Criminal Code, Aliyev’s right to freedom was violated, as well as a number of substantive and procedural provisions, the Azerbaijani Constitution Norms, the relevant articles of the International Treaties and precedents of the European Court of Human Rights, which are binding recommendations for the Member States of the Council of Euro