Center for National and International Studies



“The Azerbaijani government has consistently failed to prosecute officials implicated in corruption investigations published by journalists. Instead, they resort to arresting journalists and falsely attributing their own crimes to them…”

(Lack of) Human Rights and Freedoms

Individuals wearing black masks and civilian clothing forcibly abducted Sahib Mammadzade, the chairperson of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (APFP) Dashkesen branch, to an undisclosed location in Dashkesen district. Mammadzade’s family suspects that the State Security Service carried out this detention. During the incident, Mammadzade and his sister were together in a truck transporting goods. When they were halted and questioned about the route to Xoshbulag, a group of masked assailants seized Mammadzade, throttled him, forced him to the ground, assaulted him, and forcefully drove the vehicle in an unknown direction. As Mammadzade’s sister attempted to record the incident on her phone, she was struck multiple times on the head, sustained injuries to her arm, and had her phone taken. According to Mammadzade’s lawyer, he received a four-month prison sentence as a precautionary measure and was subsequently transferred to a Detention Center in Ganja. Mammadzade maintains his innocence and has not signed any documents pertaining to the allegations. He asserted that false charges were levied against him because of his role as the head of the APFP Dashkesen branch.

A group of Azerbaijani migrant journalists residing in Germany has directed their concerns to the President of the German Bundestag and the German Interior Minister regarding the incitement to terrorism in Europe by Azerbaijani MP Zahid Oruj. Zahid Oruj had previously advocated in parliament for the neutralization of individuals in Europe criticizing President Ilham Aliyev using all available means. The message disseminated by the journalists asserts that Ilham Aliyev has conveyed his directives to European leaders and migrants through Zahid Oruj. Exiled journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, based in Germany, highlights the exposure of political opponents to terrorism by Ilham Aliyev, both domestically and internationally. Consequently, they have cautioned the German Interior Minister about the genuine threat: “We have urged the Minister to enhance the security measures for active Azerbaijani journalists and political migrants residing in Germany.” Efforts have been initiated to impel the Bundestag to enact legislative actions against the Azerbaijani officials, including Zahid Oruj: “We will also engage with faction leaders of the Bundestag concerning the imposition of sanctions. Simultaneously, we will propose the collective formulation of a sanctions package.”

Imprisoned investigative journalist Hafiz Babali has lodged an appeal to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Interior Minister Vilayat Eyvazov, and Ombudsman Sabina Aliyeva concerning the unjust treatment he is enduring. He contends that he is being wrongfully held on fabricated charges. “I have been unlawfully detained based on information stemming from a fabricated case of currency smuggling. There is no substantiating evidence for the allegations levied against me or the circumstances outlined in the pertinent article. It is simply not plausible.” Babali asserts that he played no part in any aspect of the alleged currency smuggling during the years 2022-2023, as indicated in the criminal case. “Since November 2019, I have not crossed the state borders of the Republic of Azerbaijan. I have not engaged in any form or capacity in the planning, coordination, illegal transportation, acquisition, or distribution of currency brought from overseas as contraband. I have no association with the group implicated in the accusations against me.”

During the session of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly, Zhala Bayramova, Gubad Ibadoglu‘s daughter, read aloud her father’s letter. In the letter, Ibadoglu emphasized that his incarceration stems primarily from his anti-corruption efforts. Bayramova urged the parliamentarians to advocate for her father’s immediate release, as his health significantly deteriorates. Bayramova said: “His letter is his cry for help, because he is dying! We are doing everything to let the world know the condition of prisoners and the fact that my father is dying!” A prominent economist, politician, and activist known for his work in promoting human rights, democracy, and transparency in Azerbaijan, Ibadoghlu was arrested in summer 2023 and is recognized as a political prisoners by several human rights organizations.

Lawyer Shahla Humbatova reported a significant decline in the health of Professor Gubad Ibadoghlu, stating, “The level of sugar in his blood has risen to its maximum level. The doctor has prescribed an increased dose of insulin, emphasizing that there are no alternative methods to reduce his sugar levels. Currently, he is being administered the maximum allowable dosage of the medication.”

According to his family, jailed journalist Alasgar Mammadli, who suffers from both cancer and respiratory issues, is being detained in a room with smokers. His lawyer emphasized that this situation constitutes not only torture but also knowingly endangers his health.

Detained journalist of AbzasMedia Sevinj Vagifgizi expressed her dismay at the appalling conditions of her detention. During the session at the Appeals Court, Vagifgizi reported that in her cell, due to malfunctioning, the heating system had burst, leading to water leakage. Consequently, the cell is now submerged in water. While this minor incident could have been prevented or promptly rectified, no repairs have been undertaken yet.

Meanwhile, Abzas Media honored with Global Human Rights Award. The independent media outlet “Abzas Media” was awarded the “Homo Homini” Global Human Rights Award for the year 2023 in recognition of its commitment to independent journalism and the advocacy of human rights. Presented by the organization “People in Need,” the award ceremony took place during the inaugural session of the documentary film festival on human rights held in Prague, the Czech Republic. Leyla Mustafayeva, the interim editor-in-chief of “Abzas Media,” received the award from acclaimed Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland. Mustafayeva accepted the award on behalf of the journalists detained by the Azerbaijani government. In her speech at the ceremony, Mustafayeva highlighted the human rights situation in Azerbaijan and the challenges faced by journalists, urging the Czech government to take action against Azerbaijani officials holding assets in Czechia. “The Azerbaijani government has consistently failed to prosecute officials implicated in corruption investigations published by journalists. Instead, they resort to arresting journalists and falsely attributing their own crimes to them,” Mustafayeva emphasized. Azerbaijani lawyer and human rights defender Intigam Aliyev received the award in 2013. The “Homo Homini” Award, presented annually by the Czech organization “People in Need,” celebrates individuals and organizations dedicated to advancing human rights, democracy, and peaceful solutions amidst political turmoil.

March 22, 2024