European Court of Human Rights
European Court of Human Rights Photographer: John Edward Linden

European Court awards damages to NIDA members

The European Court of Human Rights has awarded damages to four political activists in their case against Azerbaijan.

On 7 June, the court awarded Rashad Hasanov, Zaur Gurbanli, Uzeyir Mammadli, and Rashadat Akhundov 20,000 EUR each in non-pecuniary damages and a total of 11,000 EUR in legal costs. Azerbaijan is required to make the payments within three months.

The four activists are board members of the civic movement NIDA, and they were arrested as the group was engaged in organizing protests against non-combat military deaths in the Azerbaijani armed forces. In May 2014, they were convicted on charges of preparation for a crime, mass disorder, and acquisition or storage of explosive substances.

Sentenced to between seven and eight years, all four of the applicants were eventually released early. Gurbanli and Mammadli were pardoned in December of that year, while Hasanov and Akhundov were pardoned in March 2016.

The European Court found that authorities had provided no evidence of the alleged crimes and in public statements had implied a connection between NIDA's activism and illegal activities.

"The totality of the above-mentioned facts and circumstances, taken together with the most recent reports and opinions made by various international human rights instances about the crackdown on civil society activists, including the applicants, indicates that the actual purpose of the impugned measures was to silence and punish the applicants for their active social and political engagement and their activities in NIDA," the court's decision reads.

Ilkin Rustamzadeh, another NIDA member convicted at the same trial in 2014, remains in prison.