|Harassment and intimidation of human rights defender in Azerbaijan|
Diplomatic intervention safeguards KHRP Executive Director
Prominent human rights defender and author Kerim Yildiz has been safely returned to the UK following his 13-hour unlawful detention by Azerbaijani officials on 9 February 2005. The Azerbaijan Government has banned him from returning to the country, effectively preventing him from continuing his activities to protect human rights and promote the rule of law within the country.
Yildiz was detained upon arrival at Baku airport at approximately 22.30 (18.30 GMT) on 9 February 2005. He had been travelling to Azerbaijan on behalf of the London-based NGO Kurdish Human Rights Project (KHRP) in order to take statements from applicants in cases to the European Court of Human Rights and to deliver human rights training to indigenous human rights lawyers, defenders and NGOs. KHRP has worked to enhance the capacity of these groups in Azerbaijan since 2000 through the provision of training, advice and publication of materials. Yildiz was released from detention at approximately 11.30 (07.30 GMT) on 10 February 2005.
Yildiz is a British citizen and Executive Director of KHRP, the only independent non-political human rights organisation of its type. KHRP has maintained a reputation for independence and neutrality by pioneering the use of individual petition at the European Court of Human Rights and was most recently short-listed for the Liberty/ Justice/ Law Society Human Rights Awards in 2004. Yildiz himself has received an award from the Lawyers' Committee for Human Rights for his services to protect human rights and promote the rule of law, and is a board member of other human rights and environmental organisations.
KHRP strongly condemns the decision to ban Yildiz's entry to the country, believing it to send a dangerous signal to all other human rights defenders and organisations. KHRP, together with other concerned individuals and organisations, will be conducting further enquiries into the Azerbaijan Government's decision.
KHRP would like to extend its sincere gratitude to the British FCO and Embassy in Baku and the many others whose tireless diplomatic and consular interventions safeguarded Yildiz against the threat of human rights abuse.