Azeri journalist seeks justice at ECHR

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Posted on: 
4 Aug 2014

Internationally renowned journalist Khadija Ismayilova has complained to the European Court of Human Rights about the unwillingness of the Azeri authorities to properly investigate a series of threats, intimidations and gross violations of her privacy designed to force her to stop her journalistic work.

Over nearly a decade of journalism, Ms Ismayilova, recipient of the 2012 Courage in Journalism Award, has published numerous reports on government corruption and has become internationally known for her pro-democracy stance. In 2010, she started reporting on corrupt practices involving the president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev (recently named “most corrupt person of the year” by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project) and members of his family. Soon after, she started receiving threats.

When Ms Ismayilova complained to the authorities, videos containing private footage from her apartment’s bedroom, obtained through hidden cameras that had been secretly installed in her house, were published on the internet and were widely referenced in government-loyal media.

Despite countless attempts to bring about a criminal investigation into this gross violation of her right to privacy, the Azeri authorities have showed no intention to effectively investigate the case. Ms Ismayilova has sought relief with the national courts through a number of proceedings but found no effective redress. She has been left with nothing but ongoing threats, reputational damage, a great sense of unsafety and continued risk of (physical) harm, which has also strengthened the public sense of impunity for attacks on journalists.

Because of the authorities’ failure to act, it has become more and more difficult for Ms Ismayilova and other independent journalists to fulfil their function as a watchdog.

Ms Ismayilova has petitioned the European Court of Human Rights to declare that the government of Azerbaijan has violated her rights to freedom of expression, privacy and access to justice, and to order the government of Azerbaijan to compensate her for the violation of her rights.

Ms Ismayilova is represented by the Media Rights Institute, MLDI's Legal Director Nani Jansen and Douwe Groenevelt and Lara Talsma of international law firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek