ECHR finds in favor of 11 Azerbaijani citizens prohibited from leaving the country
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has sided with 11 Azerbaijani citizens banned by the authorities from leaving the country while local courts have refused to consider their suit in the matter.
The ECHR declared that two articles of the European Convention on Human Rights- effective legal protection and freedom of movement – had been violated, and decided that the government must pay them 5,000 euros in compensation for moral damage. The government is also obliged to pay them 1,000 euros in compensation for legal costs.
This decision cannot affect the travel ban, but after three months’ time, when the verdict enters into force, the plaintiffs can again appeal to the Azerbaijani courts and try to get the ban lifted.
The plaintiffs include independent and opposition journalists, lawyers, human rights activists, as well as close relatives of several ‘disgraced’ officials. All of them were put on the no-fly list in the period stretching from 2012 to 2016.
What is the no-fly list and who is put on it
The no-fly list is a list of people who, for various reasons, are not allowed out of Azerbaijan. The list changes regularly. Although it is possible to familiarise yourself with the current list on the Internet, people usually find out that they have been grounded only at the border.
This happened with journalist Izolda Agayeva – she and two colleagues were stopped at the airport when they were returning from Ukraine, and were told that they were forbidden from leaving the country, and were taken to the ‘anti-gang department’ for questioning about their professional activities.
The eleven people in question independently sued the Azerbaijani government. There are others who have lodged similar complaints, but verdicts have not yet been made in their cases.
The authorities of Azerbaijan have not yet commented on the ruling of the European Court.