In a joint written declaration submitted at the January 2014 session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), 61 members of parliaments from Council of Europe member States called upon the authorities of Azerbaijan to release Anar Mammadli.

Anar Mammadli’s pre-trial detention is related to the case opened against Azerbaijani Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre (EMDS) in the aftermath of the Presidential elections of 9 October 2013.

Anar Mammadli was called to the Prosecutor’s Office in the evening on 16 December 2013 at 16:30 for interrogation in regard to the criminal case opened soon after the presidential election of 9 October. The criminal case was opened with charges of tax evasion, illegal business activity, and abuse of authority. Anar Mammadli was brought to the Nasimi District Court the same day. He was not given the opportunity to call his own lawyer and was represented by a lawyer appointed by the court. 

Numerous Azerbaijani NGOs were in Strasbourg during PACE’s session, as well as well as a delegation of the European Platform for Democratic Elections.

Member NGOs of the South Caucasus Network of Human Rights Defenders and the Human Rights House Network in a joint letter of 12 November 2013 called upon the President and the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Azerbaijan to put an end to the investigations into the activities of EMDS, which they consider as a harassment diminishing its independence and impeding on the right to freedom of association. The NGOs stated that they see the case opened against EMDS as “related to the organisation’s activities and its conclusions in regard to the Presidential elections of 9 October 2013. Its conclusions are documented, fact-based and provide important first-hand information to international actors. Hence, it is a disturbing voice – as the Election Monitoring Centre was until May 2008.”

The MPs urge authoriteis of Azerbaijan to immediately release Anar Mammadli from pre-trial detention. “Anar Mammadli has been fully co-operative during the investigations against EMDS and himself,” the MPs say. They add “that no justification for the detention has been given.”

The MPs further call on the Azerbaijani authorities “to guarantee a fair and transparent trial for Anar Mammadli, in full compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights.”

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About Anar Mammadli:

Anar Mammadli is the chairperson of the Azerbaijani NGO Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS). The NGO is widely seen as a trustworthy source of information and monitoring group of elections in Azerbaijan.

EMDS is an Azerbaijani non-governmental organisation founded on 1 December 2008, following the court decision to unregister the Election Monitoring Centre in May 2008 ahead of the previous Presidential elections. EMDS is the main domestic independent and non-partisan organisation working on election-monitoring and the rights to participate in the conduct of to public life as enriched in Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. EMDS is also a member of the European Platform for Democratic Elections. The organisation works in 11 regions of Azerbaijan: Baku, Gandja, Sumgayit, Shaki, Mingachevir, Goychay, Jalilabad, Sabirabad, Beylagan, Guba, and Nakhchivan. 

Anar Mammadli is a well-known Azerbaijani human rights defender and respected expert, both at home and internationally. He is often invited to expert meetings, including most recently to the expert consultation held by Maina Kiai, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, in Geneva on 1 June 2013.