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ECHR Rejects Azerbaijan’s Appeal: What Is Next?

Catholic Irelan

The panel of 5 judges of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights decided to reject the appeal of the Azerbaijani government on the case of the arrested leader of the ReAl movement Ilgar Mammadov, which means, the decision of ECHR on November 16, 2017 must be executed by Azerbaijan within 3 months.

To remind Ilgar Mammadov is an Azerbaijani opposition figure, who is currently imprisoned in Azerbaijan on charges of organizing mass disorder in Azerbaijani town of Ismayilli and was sentenced to seven years in prison. However, in 2016 ECHR judgment found that Mammadov’s arrest was politically motivated and urged the country to immediately release him.

ECHR particularly found that the actual purpose of Mammadov’s arrest was to silence or punish him for criticizing the government. Azerbaijan refused to implement the court ruling, which made the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopt a decision  last year, stating that Azerbaijan has failed to fulfill its obligation under Article 46 (1), which states: "The High Contracting Parties undertake to abide by the final judgment of the Court in any case to which they are parties."

The decision was appealed by the Azerbaijani government and was rejected by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights as noted above.

So what will happen if the Azerbaijani authorities once more fail to implement the decision made by the ECHR?

The council of Europe should turn to the Article 46 (4-5) of the European Convention of Human Rights, which states:

"4. If the Committee of Ministers considers that a High Contracting Party refuses to abide by a final judgment in a case to which it is a party, it may, after serving formal notice on that Party and by decision adopted by a majority vote of two-thirds of the representatives entitled to sit on the committee, refer to the Court the question whether that Party has failed to fulfil its obligation under paragraph 1."

"5. If the Court finds a violation of paragraph 1, it shall refer the case to the Committee of Ministers for consideration of the measures to be taken. If the Court finds no violation of 26 27 paragraph 1, it shall refer the case to the Committee of Ministers, which shall close its examination of the case."

The measures that in such a case will be used are - either suspend Azerbaijan’s voting rights, or expel Azerbaijan from the organization for a serious violation of Article 3 of the Statute of the Council of which stipulates that the member states "must accept the principles of the rule of law and of the enjoyment by all persons within its jurisdiction of human rights …, and collaborate sincerely and effectively in the realization of the aim of the Council".

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