Azeri photographer freed but risks up to five years in prison

In a letter to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, we protest against the arrest of photographer Mehman Huseynov, and the charges of hooliganism that were brought against him. If convicted, Huseynov risks a prison sentence of up to five years. We urge the authorities to ensure a safe working environment for the country’s human rights defenders.

Mehman Huseynov was detained at the Sabayil District Police station, after having been questioned for three hours. He is accused of hooliganism in connection with an unsanctioned protest in Baku on 21 May, where the police used force against protesters and journalists reporting on the event. Mehman Huseynov, who was at the protest to report, got his camera broken by the police, after which he had a verbal disagreement with the police. The charges against Mehman Huseynov are connected to the verbal disagreement with the police.

Mr President,

On behalf of Civil Rights Defenders, I write to express my concern over the arrest of Mehman Huseynov in Baku on 12 June 2012, as a result of his journalistic work during a demonstration. Huseynov was freed from custody later that day, but remains accused of hooliganism and risks up to five years in prison.

Mehman Huseynov is a photographer and videographer, and was actively involved in the campaign “Sing for Democracy” connected to the Eurovision Song Contest 2012.

Civil Rights Defenders believes that the charges against Huseynov are based on an investigation that did not meet international standards of impartiality. We therefore urge you to use your influence to ensure that a new investigation is initiated of the events in connection to the demonstration on 21st of May, when police broke up an illegal but peaceful demonstration. In the meantime, all charges against Mehman Huseynov should be dropped.

Moreover, we urge you to ensure that all violence and intimidation against journalists and other human rights defenders in Azerbaijan in the course of their work are fully and impartially investigated. We call upon the Azeri authorities to take all necessary measures in accordance with the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders to ensure an environment in which human rights defenders can continue their legitimate human rights work in a safe manner.

Thank you for your attention to the concerns raised in this letter. We welcome any feedback or response.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Hårdh
Executive Director

Categories: Statements.
Tags: Mehman Huseynov and Sing for Democracy.
Regions: Azerbaijan.