Human Rights House Tbilisi (HRHT) and its member organizations respond to the decision of the Azerbaijan Bar Association [ABA] to suspend the license to practice law to Afgan Mukhtarli’s lawyer Nemat Karimli for one year and state that it is another clear violation of Afgan Mukhtarli’s rights alongside with the restriction of lawyer’s right to his professional activities.
On April 23, 2018, based on the complaint of the First Deputy Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan, the ABA suspended the license to Nemat Karimli, the lawyer of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, for one year. It happened one day before the court hearing into Afgan Mukhtarli’s case, who was kidnapped in Georgia and then arrested in Azerbaijan.
The Deputy Prosecutor General clarified that the suspension to practice law resulted from the fact that “in his interviews with media, Afgan Mukhtarli’s lawyer tried to politicize the criminal case and to mislead the society in order to influence witnesses through violating the legislation.”
The Azerbaijan Bar Association studied the two interviews of Nemat Karimli with media.
In his first interview, the lawyer spoke about the kidnapping of Afgan Mukhtarli on May 30, 2017 and underlined that in Azerbaijan the journalist’s life was under risk and consequently, the Government of Georgia should not have transferred him to Azerbaijani side.
In his second interview, the lawyer spoke about the surveillance during his meeting with Afgan in the detention facility and he protested it by saying that “even the most authoritarian regimes could not implement surveillance of the lawyer so obviously when he was communicating with his client.”
These interviews became the reasons for suspending the license to Nemat Karimli.
HRHT and its member organizations believe that the decision of the ABA, on the one hand, violates the rights of the lawyer and interferes with and restricts his professional activities, as well as freedom of speech. On the other hand, it violates Afgan Mukhtarli’s right to defense, as he no longer has the possibility to enjoy the counsel of his lawyer. It is also a violation of one of the fundamental human rights – right to fair trial.
Suspending the right to practice law to Afgan Mukhtarli’s lawyer based on the request of the Prosecutor’s Office, because of his personal opinions about Afgan’s case, once again demonstrates that the criminal case against Afgan Mukhtarli is not free from political influence and alleged violations of his rights in Georgia or in Azerbaijan have systemic character.
HRHT member organization “Article 42 of the Constitution” represents Afgan Mukhtarli’s interests in Georgia and before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
HRHT unites five non-governmental organizations in Georgia:
- Human Rights Center
- Article 42 of the Constitution
- Media Institute
- Georgian Center for the Medical and Psycho-Social Rehabilitation of Torture Victims