The ECHR judgment of 13 April 2017 on the case "Huseynova v. Azerbaijan" (application No. 10653/10).
In 2010, the applicant was assisted in the preparation of the application. Subsequently, the application was communicated to Azerbaijan.
The case successfully examined the applicant's complaint about the lack of an effective investigation into the murder of her husband, a journalist critical of the government. The case involved a violation of the requirements of Article 2 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
Her husband, Elmar Huseynov, was a well-known independent journalist in Azerbaijan. In March 2005, he was shot down the road from work to his home. A criminal case was opened and two Georgian citizens were identified as suspects. The Georgian authorities refused to extradite them from Georgia to Azerbaijan. In the conventional proceedings, the applicant complained under Article 2 of the Convention that her husband had been killed by State agents and that the respondent Government had not adequately and effectively investigated his murder.
ISSUES OF LAW
Concerning compliance with Article 2 of the Convention (substantive law). Data that allow the Court to establish beyond any reasonable doubt that the applicant's husband was killed by State agents or that the authorities were behind his murder were missing. The Court also does not have data indicating that the Azerbaijani authorities knew or should have known at that time of the existence of a real and immediate threat to the life of the applicant's husband and could not protect his right to life.
The requirements of Article 2 of the Convention were not violated (unanimously).
Concerning compliance with Article 2 of the Convention (procedural aspect). International instruments, such as the European Convention on Extradition and the 1993 Minsk Convention, to which both States were parties, clearly provided for the transfer of a criminal case to the Georgian authorities to consider the charge of murder in Georgia. Indeed, the Georgian authorities directly indicated this possibility in their response to the request for extradition. There is no information on the consideration by the authorities of Azerbaijan of such an opportunity.
Even though the applicant was recognized as a victim in the present case, the investigating authorities constantly refused to familiarize herself with the case materials. The relevant legislation of Azerbaijan did not provide for this right of access, and the European Court found this situation unacceptable. The current situation deprived the applicant of the opportunity to protect her legitimate interests and prevented public control over the investigation.
Given the general factual context of the case of the applicant's allegation that her husband's murder was linked to his journalistic activities, it did not seem improbable. The journal, which he published independently, had a reputation sharply critical of the authorities of Azerbaijan and the opposition. The authorities intervened in its publication and distribution, and more than 30 civil and criminal proceedings were brought against the applicant's husband. It was obvious that his murder could have a deterrent effect on the work of other journalists of the country. Under such circumstances, there were grounds for checking with due diligence whether the murder, which, it seems, had been carefully planned, was connected with his journalistic activities. The Azerbaijani authorities were unable to conduct an adequate and effective investigation into the circumstances surrounding the murder of the applicant's husband.
The violation of the requirements of Article 2 of the Convention (unanimously) was committed in the case.
In the application of Article 41 of the Convention. The Court awarded the applicant 20,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary damage.