In June the first European Games was held in Baku, Azerbaijan. A country with a poor human rights record with around 100 political prisoners, no freedom of the press, massive corruption and fixed elections.
In August the human rights defenders Leyla and Arif Yunus were sentenced to a staggering 8.5 and 7 years’ imprisonment – on politically motivated charges, including illegal entrepreneurship, tax evasion and fraud. Both suffer from serious health problems, which have sharply deteriorated after a year in detention.
“These sentences are outrageous, and aimed purely at sanctioning the legitimate work of these two Azerbaijani human rights defenders. While the heavy sentences are no surprise, they serve to further undermine Azerbaijan’s complete disregard for the international standards of fair trial and due process,” Souhayr Belhassen, the International Federation for Human Rights’ Honorary President, says.
“The unprecedented speed with which the Yunus trial was carried out is appalling and tells us a lot about its quality. The judgement is full of inaccuracies due to a total lack of examination of the evidence provided. Violations of international standards of the right to a fair trial were obvious,” Gerald Staberock, World Organisation Against Torture’s Secretary General, adds.
Sport Executive has previously described the situation for the Yunus family, the crackdown of human rights in Azerbaijan and the European Olympic Committees’ views on human rights.