August 13, 2015
The United States is deeply troubled by today’s decision of an Azerbaijani court to sentence human rights and peace advocates Leyla and Arif Yunus, who have been detained for more than a year, to eight-and-a-half and seven-year prison terms, respectively. The charges appear to be solely connected with their human rights work and participation in constructive people-to-people programs aiming to ease tensions and build confidence in the region.
We are further troubled by reports of irregularities during the judicial process. We are particularly concerned about their health, and we urge the authorities to release them immediately on compassionate grounds. It is in Azerbaijan’s interest to meet its international commitments to uphold the universal rights of all its citizens, a critical step toward achieving a bright, prosperous, and stable future.
Verdict Underscores Massive Crackdown on Independent Voices
(Berlin) – A court in Baku on August 13, 2015, convicted the human rights activists Leyla and Arif Yunus who had faced politically motivated prosecution for economic crimes, Human Rights Watch said today. Leyla Yunus was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison and her husband, Arif Yunus, to seven years, following a purely politically motivated prosecution and a trial that fell far short of international standards. The Azerbaijani authorities should immediately move to set aside the convictions, drop all outstanding charges, and release the elderly, ailing couple, Human Rights Watch said today.