Azerbaijan: Independent Lawyers Network in formed | Update

See the first edition (pdf) of The Legal Profession Observer, March 2021

Newly formed Independent Lawyers Network (ILN) in Azerbaijan

Politically motivated disbarment of human rights lawyer Shahla Humbatova

In recent years, there has been severe deterioration of the situation of human rights defenders and lawyers in Azerbaijan. This decline began in 2014 when the government started to enact harsh and restrictive legislation concerning the works of civil society groups, human rights defenders, and lawyers. The legislative amendments in 2017 allowed the State to gain full control of the legal profession through the State-controlled Azerbaijani Bar Association (ABA).

January 24th, 2021, the Day of the Endangered Lawyer,  launched a year of enhanced international attention and advocacy regarding the situation of the legal profession in Azerbaijan. In  January 2021, an Independent Lawyers Network (ILN) in Azerbaijan was formed to promote and support the independence of the legal profession in Azerbaijan. The organization submitted its first bi-monthly report on March 15 entitled The Legal Profession Observer (LPO). The LPO aims to uncover information about systematic harassment, intimidation, and other interferences with lawyers’ professional activities. The ILN plans to issue reports once every two months to assess the state of the legal profession in Azerbaijan. The first edition of The Legal Profession Observer was issued on 5 March 2021. Events reported in the most recent edition of The Legal Profession Observer include:

  • 28 January 2021: The court banned human rights lawyer Nemat Karimli from participating in the trial of his client Mustafa Hajibeyli, a member of the opposition Musavat party.
  • 29 January 2021: State Security Service refused to allow human rights lawyer Elchin Sadigov to meet with his client.
  • 5th March 2021: The Baku Administrative Court upheld the ABA’s request to disbar Shahla Humbatova based on ABA allegations of the failure to pay membership fees for six months and deliberate submission of the fake document to the Court. Shahla Humbatova has rejected all the allegations.

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute issued a 26 March 2021 press release condemning the disbarment of Shahaa Humbatova. LRWC continues to monitor the situation of lawyers in Azerbaijan.