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Nongovernmental organizations request meeting with the chief prosecutor of Georgia with regard to Afgan Mukhtarli’s case

29.01.2018

 
January 29, 2018

On January 12, 2018, the Belkan (Azerbaijan) district court found Afgan Mukhtarli guilty in the imposed charges and sentenced him to 6-year-imprisonment. The court did not satisfy any solicitations of the defense side, which aimed to confirm innocence of Mukhtarli. The under-signatory organizations believe that the Belkan District Court, with regard to Afgan Mukhtarli, violated the right to fair trial guaranteed under the European Convention of Human Rights.

At the same time, although eight months have passed since the incident, the Georgian society is not informed about the investigation details into Afgan Mukhtarli’s case. There are serious questions about the effectiveness of the Georgian investigation. The society received information only about the dismissal of the head of the Counter-Intelligence Department of the State Security Service and the head of the Border Police Unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Lack of detailed clarifications about the fact, non-disclosure of relevant video-recordings from street cameras reinforces our doubt about political influence over the investigation. Possible participation of state representatives in this incident is not adequately studied so far.

Ineffective investigation of the fact undermines the Georgian democracy, which was several times underlined by the international partners. Even more, as the resolution of the European Parliament states “the European Parliament condemned the abduction of Afgan Mukhtarli in Tbilisi and urged the Georgian authorities to ensure a prompt, thorough, transparent and effective investigation into Afgan Mukhtarli’s forced disappearance.”

Authoritative human rights organization Freedom House inserted Georgia among partly-free states in its report Freedom in the World 2018. In its key findings, the Freedom House mentions the disappearance of Afgan Mukhtarli from Tbilisi and evaluates the authoritarian regime reaching across the borders as “most alarming threat to democracy.” Exiled Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli was kidnapped in Tbilisi by men who allegedly spoke Georgian, then transported across the border to Azerbaijan, raising concerns that Georgian authorities were complicit in the abduction,” the report reads. 

Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarl disappeared in the Tbilisi on May 29. Later on he turned up detained in Baku. According to Mukhtarli’s statement, he was kidnapped by Georgian-speaking people, who were dressed in Georgian police uniforms. This fact makes effective investigation of the case internationally resonant. In Azerbaijan, Afgan Mukhtarli was charged for the illegal crossing of the border, for transporting large amount of undeclared money across the border and for the disobedience to custom officers.
It is noteworthy that the Georgian investigation did not satisfy the solicitation of Human Rights House Tbilisi and its member organization Article 42 of the Constitution on granting victim status to Afgan Mukhtarli and his wife, Leyla Mustafaeva. Also, no effective investigation was conducted into alleged illegal surveillance facts against Leyla Mustafaeva and Afgan Mukhtarli’s friend Dashgin Agalarl in Tbilisi. It is important to note that Leyla Mustafaeva handed the photos of the persons to the investigation, who allegedly watched her, but there was no reaction to this fact.
Alleged abduction of Afgan Mukhtarli and transporting him to his native country come in conflict with the international law. Georgia, which is part to the European Convention on Human Rights, is responsible to ensure safety of foreign citizens or stateless persons, including Azerbaijani citizens, in its territory and combat their forced delivery to the native country, where they might be subjected to politically motivated detention, torture or inhuman treatment.

Having that, the under-signatory organizations address:

The Government of Georgia:
Make the investigation details into alleged abduction of the Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli on May 29, 2017 public: among them, due to high public interest towards the case, disclose the video-recordings from the cameras from the site of alleged kidnapping to the customs office on the border. Until now, the society was only informed that the investigation is ongoing under the Article 143 of the Criminal Code of Georgia that refers to the illegal restriction of freedom;

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia
To ensure independent and effective investigation into Afgan Mukhtarli’s case
To ensure meeting of the CSOs representatives with the Chief Prosecutor of Georgia with regard to investigation results and ongoing process into Afgan Mukhtarli’s case.
  • Human Rights House Tbilisi (HRHT)
  • Human Rights Center (HRIDC)
  • Sapari
  • Article 42 of the Constitution
  • Media Institute 
  • Georgian Center for Psycho-Social and Medical Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (GCRT)
  • Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association (GYLA)
  • Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI)
  • Transparency International – Georgia (TI)
  • Georgian Democracy Initiative (GDI)
  • International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED)
  • Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
  • Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF)

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