The decision of the ECHR of February 18, 2021 in the case "Azizov and Novruzlu v. Azerbaijan" (aplications No. 65583/13 and others).
In 2013, the applicants were assisted in the preparation of the aplication. Subsequently, the aplication was communicated to Azerbaijan.
The case successfully examined an aplication about the detention of applicants who participated in peaceful anti-Government demonstrations and the extension of their detention. The case involved a violation of the requirements of paragraph 3 of article 5 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, article 18 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, considered in conjunction with paragraph 3 of article 5.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
Both applicants, members of the NIDA non-governmental youth organization, participated in peaceful anti-government demonstrations dedicated to the deaths of Azerbaijani army soldiers in non-combat situations. The applicants were detained and placed in custody on charges of illegal possession of narcotic substances and a Molotov cocktail (the second applicant) after searches in their apartments and the day before another demonstration. The period of the applicants' detention was extended by a number of decisions of Azerbaijani courts, and the applicants' petitions to replace the preventive measure with house arrest were rejected. Additional charges were formulated.
Regarding compliance with article 5, paragraph 3, of the Convention. The Azerbaijani courts did not provide "relevant" and "sufficient" grounds to justify the need to extend the applicants' detention: the courts used a standard template in which they simply listed the grounds for detention without analyzing the specific facts of the case; they cited irrelevant grounds and ignored the fact that the second applicant was a minor.
In the case, the requirements of paragraph 3 of Article 5 of the Convention were violated (adopted unanimously).
Regarding compliance with article 18 of the Convention, considered in conjunction with paragraph 3 of Article 5 of the Convention. The complaint of violations of these provisions of the Convention was a fundamental and clear aspect of the case that required separate consideration.
The applicants in the present case, as well as in the case "Rashad Hasanov and Others v. Azerbaijan" (See: Judgment of the European Court in the case "Rashad Hasanov and Others v. Azerbaijan" (Rashad Hasanov and Others v. Azerbaijan) of June 7, 2018, complaint No. 48653/13 and others.), were accused and convicted within the framework of one criminal case. However, unlike in the case of Rashad Hasanov and Others v. Azerbaijan, in the present case the European Court did not have to consider whether the applicants had been deprived of their liberty in the absence of a "reasonable suspicion" of committing a crime, since the applicants had not exhausted the remedies provided by the State in this regard. Therefore, the present case should be distinguished from cases in which the applicants' right to freedom of movement was restricted solely for purposes that were not provided for by the Convention (Compare, for example, the Ruling of the European Court in the case "Rashad Hasanov and Others v. Azerbaijan" (Rashad Hasanov and Others v. Azerbaijan) and the Ruling of the European Court in the case "Aliyev v. Azerbaijan" (Aliyev v. Azerbaijan) of September 20, 2018, complaints N 68762/14 and 71200/14, and the Ruling of the Grand Chamber of the European Court in the case "Navalny v. Of the Russian Federation" (Navalny v. Russia) dated November 15, 2018, complaint No. 29580/12 and four other complaints//Russian Chronicle of the European Court of Justice. 2019. N 1.), namely, the European Court had to consider the question of a potential multiplicity of goals. In doing so, the European Court found the following.
Firstly, there were substantial grounds to believe that the applicants' detention under the chosen preventive measure had a hidden purpose; namely, to punish and silence members of the NIDA organization for their active participation in anti-Government demonstrations. In particular, the Prosecutor's Office of Azerbaijan:
(i) as established in the case "Rashad Hasanov and Others v. Azerbaijan", clearly acted against the NIDA organization and its members;
(ii) from the very beginning of the criminal proceedings, attempts were made to link the applicants' possession of narcotic substances and a Molotov cocktail with their membership in the NIDA organization;
(iii) used the fact that a criminal case was initiated (taking into account the time - on the eve of another demonstration) and the subsequent detention of the applicants under the chosen preventive measure to prevent the organization of new demonstrations and
(iv) tried to present leaflets found in the apartment of the second applicant, on which was printed: "Democracy is urgently needed, tel.: 944, address: Azerbaijan" as illegal materials in an attempt to establish intent to incite violence and civil disobedience at a demonstration scheduled for the next day.
Secondly, the ulterior motive was the main goal to restrict the applicants' freedom. In formulating such a conclusion, the European Court took into account:
(i) the general situation and the established practice of arbitrary detentions and detention of government critics, human rights defenders and civil rights activists, including members of the NIDA organization, through the application of punitive sanctions and abuse of criminal law (As indicated in the Ruling of the European Court in the case "Aliyev v. Azerbaijan" (Aliyev v. Azerbaijan).);
(ii) special attacks on the organization NIDA as a legal entity and its administration to end its activities (Cm.: The judgment of the European Court in the case of "Rashad Hasanov and others V. Azerbaijan" (Rashad Hasanov and Others V. Azerbaijan).) and try to prevent further protests with the help of a criminal case against the applicants and place them into custody; and finally,
(iii) the mistakes made by the courts of Azerbaijan to the consideration of the applicant's detention under the preventive measure chosen and installed according to paragraph 3 of article 5 of the Convention.
The case violated the requirements of article 18 of the Convention, considered in conjunction with paragraph 3 of Article 5 of the Convention (adopted unanimously).
In order to apply Article 41 of the Convention, the European Court awarded each of the applicants 2,000 euros in compensation for non-pecuniary damage. The second applicant's claim for compensation for material damage was rejected.