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Another Azerbaijani human rights activists convicted

A Criminal Court of Baku has sentenced Leyla and Arif Yunus, Azerbaijani human rights defenders, to 8.5 and 7 years in prison, respectively. They have been accused of illegal business activities, tax evasion and fraud.

Leyla Yunus is a respected human rights advocate and Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy, a non-governmental organisation. In 2014, she was nominated for the Sakharov Prize. Her husband, Arif Yunus, is a historian and social activist. The couple actively supported the building of peaceful relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and opposed corruption and illegal evictions.

The trial of Leyla and Arif Yunus has been concluded with unprecedented speed, which is not a good indication of its quality. “The judgement is full of inaccuracies due to a total lack of examination of the evidence provided by the defence. Violations of international standards of the right to a fair trial were obvious in this case”, said Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of the World Organisation Against Torture.

The conviction of Mr and Mrs Yunus was a part of an unprecedented surge of repression against human rights defenders and journalists. Human rights advocates have been subject to a crackdown that was launched in Azerbaijan last year.

A statement on this case, issued by the Sport for Rights coalition, can be viewed here.

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