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Azerbaijan: Bar Association Must Cease Harassment of Human Rights Lawyers
In response to the ongoing persecution of human rights lawyers in Azerbaijan, Freedom House issued following statement:
“The Azerbaijani Bar Association’s decision to suspend Adil Ismayilov’s license to practice law, and to summon Shahla Humbatova to meet its board, are yet more examples of biased disciplinary proceedings used to pressure human rights lawyers,” said Marc Behrendt, director for Europe and Eurasia programs at Freedom House. “Once again, through its actions, the bar association sacrifices its independence in support of the government. Freedom House calls on the Azerbaijani Bar Association to reinstate Ismayilov, and cancel all disciplinary proceedings against human rights lawyers.”
On September 10, human rights lawyer Adil Ismayilov’s license was suspended for one year, seemingly as a consequence of his public criticism of the Azerbaijani Bar Association and the chief prosecutor’s office. The suspension of his license prevents Ismayilov from representing his clients and carrying out his legal duties.
In a separate incident, on September 9, Shahla Humbatova was summoned to a meeting of the Azerbaijani Bar Association’s board to respond to a complaint by Azerbaijan’s penitentiary service from January 2019. The issue was postponed, but this action could be a sign that Humbatova will be sanctioned for her legal defense of human rights in Azerbaijan.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.