Khadija Ismayilova wins case against Azerbaijan

Press releases 11.01.2019

IMG_0565On 10 January, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) presented its decision in the case of investigative journalist and Right Livelihood Award Laureate Khadija Ismayilova. The court ruled that Azerbaijan has failed to investigate an intimate video secretly filmed in Ismayilova’s bedroom, which had been used as an attempt to stop her critical reporting. For many years, Ismayilova has been subjected to smear campaigns, harassment and fabricated criminal charges for publishing articles on government corruption.

“I welcome this important court ruling, but we have to achieve full justice on the case. Our work is not complete without the perpetrators being brought to justice. I am grateful to colleagues, lawyers and the international human rights community who supported me in these troubled days. I’m also grateful to the people of Azerbaijan who demonstrated respect to my privacy rights and didn’t allow the government of Azerbaijan to use traditional sentiments for further attacking me”, said Khadija Ismayilova.

For her courageous work in exposing corruption, Ismayilova has been subject to the full spectrum of gendered attacks on women human rights defenders and journalists. In March 2012, Ismayilova received a letter containing intimate photos of her, with a note warning her that she would be shamed if she did not stop her work. It was clear that unknown persons had broken into her apartment and installed hidden cameras in her room. Ismayilova bravely refused to give in and publicly exposed the blackmail attempt, leading to an intimate video of her being circulated on the internet. Later, Ismayilova discovered that the filming was conducted with participation of the local state-owned telephone company.

In 2014, Ismayilova filed a complaint to the ECHR, claiming that that the Republic of Azerbaijan was either directly responsible for the very serious intrusions into her private life or did not comply with its duty to take measures to protect her privacy rights, by failing to conduct an effective investigation and identify those responsible. The court found that there had been significant flaws and delays in the state’s investigation related to the leaked private video, secretly filmed in Ismayilova’s bedroom. The judges ruled that Azerbaijan has breached article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights to protect journalistic freedom of expression as well as article 8 to protect intrusion into private life. This ineffective investigation had been an affront to her human dignity, and according to the court’s decision, Ismayilova shall receive a compensation of 15,000 Euros and another 1,750 Euros for legal costs and expenses.

Khadija Ismayilova received the Right Livelihood Award in 2017 “for her courage and tenacity in exposing corruption at the highest levels of government through outstanding investigative journalism in the name of transparency and accountability.” Khadija Ismayilova has been under travel been since 2016 and has still not been able to receive her Award.

For more information, visit the website of the ECHR for the official judgement and read an extended article published by Amnesty International.

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