Head of independent election monitoring group must be released

On 16 December 2013, the chairman of the Azerbaijani Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center Anar Mammadli was sentenced to 3 months pre-trial detention, in a politically charged case.

Anar MammadliAnar 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 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. 

Anar Mammadli 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. 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 the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre, which they consider as a harassment diminishing its independence and impeding on the right to freedom of association.

In their joint letter of 12 November, 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.” 

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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.6 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. 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.


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