Decision of the ECHR of December 13, 2018 in the case of Mursaliyev and Others v. Azerbaijan (application No. 66650/13 and other applications).
In 2013 and 2016, complainants were assisted in preparing applications. Subsequently, the applications were merged and communicated to Azerbaijan.
The case was successfully considered applications about the ban on leaving the country to witnesses in a criminal case without any legal basis for this. The case has violated the requirements of paragraph 2 of Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
On various dates between 2012 and 2016, the investigating authorities imposed travel bans on applicants who were witnesses in the ongoing criminal investigation, not allowing them to leave the country. The applicants challenged exit bans by filing complaints with administrative courts or appealing to regular courts for review. The courts of Azerbaijan refused to consider the complaints of the applicants, with the exception of one of the complaints, which was rejected on the merits, indicating that they do not have the authority to verify the legality of exit bans imposed by the investigating authorities.
QUESTIONS OF RIGHT
Regarding compliance with paragraph 2 of Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention. The Azerbaijani authorities did not refer to any provision of legislation that would serve as the legal basis for imposing travel bans on persons who were witnesses in criminal proceedings. In addition, the provisions of the Migration Code, which regulated the right of Azerbaijani citizens to leave the country, contained an exhaustive list of circumstances in which this right could be temporarily restricted, and none of these circumstances corresponded to the situation of the applicants. Moreover, Article 1 of the Passport Act, which was in force during the events in question, provided for a temporary restriction on the right to leave the country, but only if the person concerned was suspect or accused in a criminal case, convicted or subjected to compulsory medical treatment.
The investigating authorities imposed a ban on the departure of the applicants in the absence of any judicial decision. In addition, when considering the contested measures, the courts of Azerbaijan did not indicate the legal basis for imposing exit bans, but merely limited themselves to refusing to consider them on the merits. In a single case, the relevant court established that the restriction of the applicant’s right to leave the country was justified, without referring to any provisions of the legislation of Azerbaijan.
Considering the above, interference with the applicants' right to leave the country was not carried out “in accordance with the law”.
The case was a violation of the requirements of paragraph 2 of Article 2 of Protocol No. 4 to the Convention (adopted unanimously).
In application of Article 41 of the Convention. The Court awarded each applicant EUR 5,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.