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The Convention under threat

... The one I would like to highlight is the ongoing detention of the well-known intellectual and activist, Ilgar Mammadov, in Azerbaijan. Mr Mammadov has been in prison for two years, where there are strong indications that he has faced threats and ill-treatment. He is not the only person in Europe who is locked up when they shouldn’t be. But he is the only person who remains behind bars in spite of the fact that the Strasbourg Court, the highest legal authority on the continent, relying on the rarely used Article 18, concluded that the courts and prosecution had abused their power to engage proceedings against him. In other words, politically motivated evidence was used against him. In the few other cases where the Strasbourg Court concluded a violation of Article 18, the applicants were either rapidly released, acquitted or their conviction was annulled. In this case nothing has been done. The Azerbaijani authorities have resisted repeated calls from myself, this Assembly and the Human Rights Commissioner to free Ilgar Mammadov. In such a situation I am entitled to take extraordinary measures, according to Article 52 of the Convention, which I am invoking, for the first time since I became Secretary General, in order to send a special mission directly into the country to pursue Mr Mammadov’s release. Again: we cannot have people in prison on the European continent, whom our highest court has said are there on false ground...

Thorbjørn JAGLAND

Secretary General of the Council of Europe

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