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ECtHR: activists from Azerbaijan subjected to inhuman treatment

On 2 June the European Court of Human Rights issued a judgment concerning Azerbaijani human rights activists, Leyla and Arif Yunus. The activists were detained in connection with their activity during summer holiday of 2014. They were presented with fabricated charges of tax evasion and fraud.

The couple was imprisoned for nearly sixteen months. At the moment they were detained both applicants had severe health problems. Leyla Yunus suffers from Hepatitis C and her liver has partially been damaged. Arif Yunus has hypertension, which in the past lead to a stroke. The activists were not provided appropriated medical care in detention.

Mr and Mrs Yunus filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights in which they argued the violation of Article 3 of the Convention, namely the prohibition of inhuman and degrading treatment, resulting from the fact that they were not provided medical care at a detention facility (application no. 59620/14). In September 2014, the ECtHR invoked Article 39 of the Rules of Court and obliged the Azerbaijani authorities to provide monthly reports on the health condition of the applicants.

In the judgment of 2 June 2016 the ECtHR stated that the Azerbaijani authorities had failed to satisfy the obligation resulting from the Article 39 of the Rules of Court as the monthly reports had been incomplete and had included no medical records. Also during the exchange of submissions the authorities did not provide the Court with such records. This in effect prevented the ECtHR from constantly monitoring the health of the applicants. Moreover, the authorities did not provide any justification for such a failure, thereby violating the Article 34 of the Convention.

In addition, judges of the ECtHR stated that the detention conditions had not been adjusted to the health condition of the activists, which led to the inhuman and degrading treatment of Mr and Mrs Yunus. This resulted also a violation of Article 3 of the Convention.

The applicants were awarded EUR 13,000 in compensation for moral injury. In Strasbourg, the applicants were represented by Javad Javadov, an advocate from Azerbaijan and Dominika Bychawska-Siniarska, member of the HFHR legal team.


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