A vicious circle in Azerbaijan: electoral violations and belated decisions of the ECHR
ECHR rulings on election violations in Azerbaijan
On January 13, 2022, the European Court of Human Rights will announce decisions on more than 15 cases from Azerbaijan. Among them is a complaint about the violation of a candidate’s rights in the parliamentary elections. According to opposition politicians, the belated decisions of the European court benefit Azerbaijani authorities.
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“It is impossible to turn the process back”
The chairman of the opposition Umid party, Igbal Aghazadeh, is awaiting a decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in connection with his statement on the violation of his rights in the parliamentary elections.
According to the deputy of the Milli Mejlis (Azerbaijani parliament) Fazil Mustafa, the Azerbaijani government, as a rule, implements the decisions of the ECHR regarding violations of property rights or illegal arrests, and the applicants are paid compensation.
“There are examples of acquittal of convicted activists, and in particular, cases with activists of the REAL party and the NIDA movement.
With regard to violations of voting rights, the government usually limits itself to payment of compensation. It is impossible to turn the process back, 2-3 years have passed since the elections and there is already a deputy from this constituency. They can also challenge the violation of their rights in court. Therefore, the most correct thing is compensation”, Mustafayev said in an interview with Turan.
“The government admits the incidents of election fraud”
The chairman of the opposition Citizens and Development Party, Ali Aliyev, is sure that the issue of fair elections in Azerbaijan is one of a “vicious circle”, and the European Court of Human Rights is a part of it.
“In 2021, the ECHR made a decision on about 40 applications for violation of the rights of candidates in the 2015 parliamentary elections. I am one of these plaintiffs to receive from the state 4,750 euros [$ 5,367] compensation. This is the decision of the European court. Of this amount, 750 euros [$ 847] will be spent on legal fees, 4000 euros [$ 4520] will go to me. But was this what I wanted?
According to my lawyer, during the consideration of the case, the government of Azerbaijan recognized the violations of the law and agreed to pay compensation.
The amount of compensation is symbolic. This is just a tiny fraction of the amount I spent on the 2015 election campaign. The political component is important here.
From all this, we can conclude that the government does not hide the fact that the elections were falsified. Thus, the executive power usurps the legislative power.
After 4-5 years, when that very parliament is already losing its power, the European Court makes a decision in favor of those candidates whose rights have been violated and the government recognizes these violations.
This means that for the whole 5 years, the legislative power in the country was actually appropriated, it was illegitimate, if we go even further, all the laws adopted by this illegal parliament are illegitimate”, Aliyev said.
“A vicious circle in Azerbaijan”
According to oppositionist Ali Aliyev, the Azerbaijani authorities have found an easy way:
“At first, you falsify elections, legal procedures take a long time, and end almost at the time when this parliament is already losing its power and new elections are about to take place. At this time, authorities admit the falsification of the elections of the already non-existent parliament and pay compensation.
Then another falsification and another illegitimate parliament come, and the decision of the ECHR arrives in the next 5 years. Such is the vicious circle. In other words, even this judicial path does not lead us to anything good”.
Financial side of the matter
Ali Aliyev also touched upon the financial side of the issue:
“I will be paid compensation in the amount of only 4,750 euros. But what have I lost in the material sense?
If I were elected to parliament, according to the law, my party would have received 120,000 manats [$ 70,588] from the state budget annually as well as 600,000 manats [$ 352,941] for the period of parliament’s activity. Add to this the salary of the deputy, his assistant, the costs of his activities for 5 years and you will get a pretty large amount. In turn, I will be paid compensation that is ridiculous in comparison”, Ali Aliyev summed up his words.