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Ibrahimov and Others v. Azerbaijan No. 69234/11, 69252/11 and 69335/11

FI FTH SECTION

CASE OF IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN

(Applications nos. 69234/11 , 69252/11 and 69335/11 )

JUDGMENT

STRASBOURG

11 February 2016

FINAL

11/05/2016

This judgment has become final under Article 44 § 2 of the Convention. It may be
subject to editorial revision.

IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 1

In the case of Ibrahimov and Others v. Azerbaijan,
The European Court of Human Rights ( Fifth Section ), sitting as a
Chamber composed of:
Angelika Nußberger, President,
Khanlar Hajiyev,
Erik Møse,
André Potocki,
Yonko Grozev,
Síofra O ’Leary,
Carlo Ranzoni, judges,
and Claudia Westerdiek , Section Registrar ,
Having deliberated in private on 19 January 2016 ,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
PROCEDURE
1. The case originated in three applications (nos. 69234/11 , 69252/11
and 69335/11 ) against the Republic of Azerbaijan lodged with the Court
under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by Azerbaijani nationals,
Mr Agasif Shakir oglu Ibrahimov (Ağasif Şakir oğlu İbrahimov – “the first
applicant”) , Mr Emin Mehdi oglu Farh adi ( Emin Mehdi oğlu Fərhadi – “the
second applicant”) and Mr Jamil Malik oglu Hajiyev (Cəmil Malik oğlu
Hacıyev – “the third applicant”), on 19 October 2011 .
2. The applicants , who had been granted legal aid, were represented by
Mr R. Mustafazade and Mr A. Mustafayev , lawyers practising in
Azerbaijan . The Azerbaijani Government (“the Government”) were
represented by their Agent, Mr Ç. Asgarov.
3. The applicants alleged in particular, that the dispersal of the
demonstration in which they had participated and their arrest and conviction
had violated their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of
expression . They further complained that the administrative proceedings
against them had fallen short o f guarantees of a fair hearing, and that their
arrest and conviction had been contrary to guarantees of the right to liberty.
4. On 17 February 2014 the complaints concerning Articles 5, 6 , 10 and
11 were communicated to the Govern ment and the remainder of the
applications was declared inadmissible.

2 IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT

THE FACTS
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
5. The applicants were born in 1988 , 1989 and 1977 respectively . The
first and third applicants live in Baku , and the second applicant lives in
Khirdalan .
A. Demonstration of 22 May 2011 and the applicants ’
“administrative” arrest
6. The youth group Committee for Protection of Rights of Young
Political Prisoners (“Gənc Siyasi M əhbusların Hüquqla rını Müdafi ə
Komit əsi” ) decided to hold a demonstration at around 5.30 p.m. on 22 May
2011 at the Seaside Boulevard in Baku. They did not notify their plan to the
relevant authority, the Baku City Executive Authority (the BCEA) .
7. According to the applicant s, the demonstration was intended to be
peaceful and was conducted in a peaceful manner. The participants , a group
of ten to twelve persons, were demanding the release of young persons
arrested during some previous demonstratio ns.
8. The applicant s attended the demonstration, but shortly after it had
begun the police started to disperse it. According to the applicants, as soon
as they noticed the police approaching they attempted to run away and leave
the place of the demonstration but police officers followed and caught them.
All three applicant s were arrested by police officers V.I. and R.G. at around
5.30 p.m. and were taken to police station No. 39 of the Sabail District
Police Office.
9. Police officers V.I. and R.G. stated the following in a report ( raport )
submitted to a superior police officer:
“… at around 5.30 p.m. at the Seaside Boulevard … a group of young persons
attempted to hold an unauthorised [de monstration] by shouting out loud, and disturbed
people. When we wanted to calm down those persons they ignored us. … We …
brought them to police station no. 39. …”
10 . According to the applicant s, they were questioned at the police
station.
11 . Between 6.15 p.m. and 6.30 p.m. on the day of the arrest,
“administrative -offence report s” ( inzibati x əta haqqında protokol ) were
issued by police officer T.R. in respect of all three applicants . The report s
stated that at 5.30 p.m. on 22 May 2011 , by deliberately failing to comply
with the lawful order of the police, the applicant s had committed an
administrative offence under Article 310 of the Code of Administrative
Offences (“the C AO”).

IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 3

12 . All three applicants refused to sign the respective administrative –
offence report s, which contained pre -printed text s declaring that “[the
arrested person] was familiarised with the report ” and “ the rights and
obligations under Articles 371, 372, 374, 377, 379 and 410.4 of the CAO of
the Republic of Azerbaijan were explained”.
13 . Subsequently, police officer T.R . prepared “administrative -arrest
report s” ( inzibati qaydada tutma haqqında protokol ) with respect to the first
and second applicant s.
14 . According to those administrative -arrest reports, copies of which
were submitted to the Court by the Government, the first and second
applicant s had been subjected to administrative arrest at 7 p.m. on 22 May
2011 . The reports also stated that the applicants had been released on the
same date, without specifying the time of the alleged release s, and contain ed
signatures of the first and second app licants. However, all three applicants
maintained that they had been kept in police custody overnight.
15 . According to the applicants , they were never served with cop ies of
the administrative -offence report s or with other document s in their case
file s. They were not given access to a lawyer after the arrest or while they
were kept in police custody.
B. Court proceedings against the applicants
1. The first applicant, Mr Agasif Ibrahimov
16 . On 23 May 2011, the day after his arrest, the first applicant,
Mr Agasif Ibrahimov, was brought before the Sabail District Court.
17 . According to the applicant, the hearing, which began at 12.40 p.m.,
was very brief and members of the publ ic, including human rights defenders
and journalists, were not allowed to attend, even though the court had not
taken a formal decision to close the hearing to the public.
18 . The applicant was not represented by any lawyer. Accord ing to the
applicant, he was not given an opportunity to hire a lawyer of his own
choice.
19 . The applicant stated before the court that he was not guilty of
disobeying a lawful order of a police officer .
20 . The only witness questioned during the court hearing w as police
officer R.G., who testified as follows:
“At around 5.30 p.m. on 22 May 2011 … a group of persons attempted to hold an
unauthorised [demonstration ] by shouting out loud, and disturbed peop le. When we
wanted to calm down those persons, among them [the applicant], they disobeyed a
lawful police order. Then we … brought them to police station no. 39 where
administrative -offence reports were issued in their respect. One of them was [the
appli cant].”.
21 . The court found that the applicant had failed to stop participating in
the unauthorised demonstration. The court convicted him under

4 IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT

Article 310.1 of the CAO and sentenced him to seven days ’
“administrative” detention.
22 . The applicant lodged an appeal before the Baku Court of Appeal,
arguing that his conviction was in violation of his rights because the
demonstration in which he had participated had been peaceful. He also
complained that his arrest had been unlawful and that the hearing before the
first -instance court had not been fair. He requested the Baku Court of
Appeal to quash the first -instance court ’s decision.
23 . The applicant was represented before the Baku Court of Appeal by a
lawyer of his own choice.
24 . On 31 May 2011 the Baku Court of Appeal dismissed the applicant ’s
appeal and upheld the decision of the first -instance court, stating that its
findings had been correct.
25 . The Court of Appeal also noted that at the first -instance court
hearing the applicant had refused the assistance of a State -funded lawyer
and had decided to defend himself in person.
2. The second applicant, Mr Emin Farhadi
26 . On 23 May 2 011, the day after his arrest, the second applicant,
Mr Emin Farhadi, was brought before the Sabail District Court.
27 . According to the applicant, the hearing, which began at 12.30 p.m.,
was very brief and members of the public were not allowed to attend, even
though the court had not taken a formal decision to close the hearing to the
public.
28 . The applicant was not represented by any lawyer. According to the
applicant, he was not given an opportunity to hire a lawyer of his own
choice. According to the transcript of the court hearing, he refused the
assistance of a State -funded lawyer and decided to defend himself in person.
29 . The applicant stated before the court that he was not guilty of
disobeying a lawful order of a police officer and that he had participated in
the demonstration as an observer .
30 . The only witness questioned during the court hearing was police
officer R.G. The statement that he g ave against the second applicant,
Mr Emin Farhadi, was similar to his statement against the first applicant,
Mr Agasif Ibrahimov (see paragraph 20 above ).
31 . The court found that the applicant had failed to stop participating in
the unauthorised demonstration. The court convicted him under
Article 310.1 of the CAO and sentenced him to eight days ’ “administrative”
detention.
32 . The applicant lodged an appeal before the Baku Court of Appeal,
arguing that hi s conviction was in violation of his rights because the
demonstration in which he had participated had been peaceful. He also
complained that his arrest had been unlawful and that the hearing before the

IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 5

first -instance court had not been fair. He requested the Baku Court of
Appeal to quash the first -instance court ’s decision.
33 . The applicant was represented before the Baku Court of Appeal by a
lawyer of his own choice.
34 . On 31 May 2011 the Baku Court of Appeal dismissed the applicant ’s
appeal and upheld the decision of the first -instance court, stating that its
findings had been correct.
3. The third applicant, Mr Jamil Hajiyev
35 . On 23 May 2011, the day after his arrest, the third applicant,
Mr Jamil Hajiyev , was brought before the Sabail District Court.
36 . According to the applicant, the hearing, which began at 12.30 p.m.,
was very brief and members of the public were not allowed to attend, even
thou gh the court had not taken a formal decision to close the hearing to the
public.
37 . The applicant was not represented by any lawyer. According to the
applicant, he was not given an opportunity to hire a lawyer of his own
choice an d he refused the assistance of a State -funded lawyer because he
believed that such assistance would be of a formalistic nature .
38 . The applicant stated before the court that he was not guilty of
disobeying a lawful order of a poli ce officer . He further emphasised that he
and other participants of the demonstration had protested peacefully , and
that they had been holding photos of arrested young persons , without
uttering any slogans. The applicant also stated that he had run away as soon
as he saw the police approaching and had boarded a taxi, and that police
officers had stopped that taxi and had forced him out.
39 . The only witness questioned during the court hearing was police
officer R.G. The statement th at he gave against the third applicant, Mr Jamil
Hajiyev, was similar to his statement against the first applicant, Mr Agasif
Ibrahimov (see paragraph 20 above ). R.G. also confirmed that Mr Jamil
Hajiyev had tried to escape by taxi, and that the police officers had stopped
that taxi.
40 . The court found that the applicant had failed to stop participating in
the unauthorised demonstration. The court convicted him under
Article 310.1 of the CAO and senten ced him to seven days ’
“administrative” detention.
41 . The applicant lodged an appeal before the Baku Court of Appeal,
arguing that his conviction was in violation of his rights because the
demonstration in which he had participate d had been peaceful. He also
complained that his arrest had been unlawful and that the hearing before the
first -instance court had not been fair. He requested the Baku Court of
Appeal to quash the first -instance court ’s decision.
42 . The applicant was represented before the Baku Court of Appeal by a
lawyer of his own choice.

6 IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT

43 . On 31 May 2011 the Baku Court of Appeal dismissed the applicant ’s
appeal and upheld the decision of the first -instance court, stati ng that its
findings had been correct.
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW
A. 1995 Constitution
44 . The relevant part of Article 49 of the Constitution reads as follows:
Article 49
Freedom of assembly
“… II. Everyone has the right, having notified respective governmental bodies in
advance, to assemble with other people peacefully and without arms, to organise
meetings, demonstrations, protests and marches, and to stage pickets.”
B. Law on Freedom of Asse mbly of 13 November 1998
45 . Under Article 5 of the Law, advance written notification is required
in order to agree upon the place and time of an assembly and upon the route
of a march, with the purpose of enabling the relevant loc al executive
authority to take necessary measures. The notification has to be done in
writing five days before the demonstration. Under Article 5 § IV of the
Law, no prior written notification was required for spontaneous assemblies.
46 . Other provisions of the Law provide the relevant local executive
authority with broad powers to issue relevant orders so as to prohibit
(Article 8 §§ IV and V) or stop (Article 8 § VI) a public assembly; to restrict
or change the place, route and/or time of a public assembly (Article 9 §§ II
and VII); and to designate specific areas for public assemblies (Article 9
§ VI).
47 . At the material time Article 14 of the Law provided as follows:
Article 14
Powers of the police authorities with regard to the holding of an assembly
“I. … the police authorities have the following powers with regard to the holding of
an assembly: …
2) When necessary, to stop an assembly which has not been notified [to the
authorities] beforeha nd, save for [spontaneous] assemblies …;

4) To apprehend and remove from the place where an event is being held persons
who came carrying … weapons, as well as rocks, pieces of wood and glass, or clubs
that may pose a threat to people ’s life and s afety or damage property, [as well as] …
explosives, … flammables, … radioactive materials;

IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 7

II. The police authorities have the following powers with regard to the execution of
orders specified under Article 8 paragraphs V and VI of this Law:

2) To order the organisers and participants of an assembly to use all available
opportunities to stop the assembly and to disperse;
3) To warn organisers and participants that physical force or exceptional measures
will be used against them if the or der to stop the assembly and to disperse is not
complied with;
4) To use physical force or exceptional measures in order to stop an assembly and
disperse participants, in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Azerbaijan;
5) To apprehend pers ons not complying with the order to stop an assembly and
disperse. …
VI. The use of physical force or exceptional measures by police officers in all
circumstances must be proportionate to an existing threat.”
C. Code of Administrative Offences of 2000 (“the CAO”)
48 . Article 298 of the CAO provided, at the material time, as follows:
Article 298
Breach of the rules on the organisation and holding of assemblies, demonstrations,
protests, marches and pickets
“Any breach of the rule s, set forth under the legislation, on the organisation and
holding of assemblies, demonstrations, protests, marches and pickets shall be
punishable by a reprimand or a fine of seven to thirteen manats [AZN].”
49 . Article 310 provided, at the material time, as follows:
Article 310
Deliberate failure to comply with the lawful order of a police officer
or military serviceman
“310.1. Deliberate failure [by an individual] to comply with the lawful order of a
police officer or mili tary serviceman carrying out their duties to protect public order
shall be punishable by a fine of twenty to twenty -five manats [AZN] or, if that
sanction is inadequate in the circumstances of the case and taking into account the
character of the offender, by administrative detention for a term of up to fifteen days.”
50 . Article 376 provided, at the material time, as follows:
Article 376
Compulsory participation of a lawyer
“… 376.2. If it is impossible for the lawyer chosen by the person against whom
administrative -offence proceedings are being carried out to attend, a judge … shall
appoint a lawyer for that person, in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of
Azerbaijan.
376.3. If a person subjected to an administra tive arrest has no possibility to hire a
lawyer due to [his or her] financial situation, [his or her] legal assistance shall be

8 IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT

funded by the State. In this case a lawyer may not refuse to carry out his or her
duties.”
51 . Article 396 provided, at the material time, as follows:
Article 396
Measures to secure administrative -offence proceedings
“396.1. An authorised official may use the following measures in order to prevent
administrative offences, to establish the identity of a per son, to draw up an
administrative -offence report if this cannot be done at the place [of the administrative
offence] and if the drawing up of a report is important, to ensure the correct and
timely examination of [administrative -offence] cases, and to ensu re the
implementation of decisions in administrative -offence cases: …
396.1.2. administrative arrest; …”
52 . Article 398 provided, at the material time, as follows:
Article 398.1
Administrative arrest
“398.1. Administrative a rrest, that is the short -term restriction of an individual ’s
liberty, may be applied in exceptional circumstances when deemed necessary for
ensuring the correct and timely examination of an administrative -offence case or for
the implementation of a decision in an administrative -offence case, except for
instances s et out in legislation. …”
53 . Article 410 provided, at the material time, as follows:
Article 410
Administrative -offence report
“… 410.3. An individual who is subject to the administrative -offence proceedings or
a representative of a legal entity shall be given an opportunity to familiarise with the
administrative -offence report.
410.4. … An individual who is subject to the administrative -offence proceedings or a
representative of a legal entity … has the right to a copy of the administrative -offence
report .”
54 . Article 414 provided, at the material time, as follows:
Article 414
Communication of an [administrative -offence] report (a prosecutor ’s decision)
for examination
“… 414.2. A report … concerning an administrative offence punishable by
administrative detention shall be sent to a judge for examination immediately after it
has been drawn up.”
55 . Article 422 provided, at the material time, as follows:

IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 9

Article 422
Time -limits for examination of administrative -offence cases
“422.3. Cases [concerning an administrative offence] punishable by administrative
detention shall be examined on the day of receipt [by the court] of an administrative –
offenc e report; cases against persons subjected to administrative arrest shall be
examined at the latest within 48 hours of their arrest.”
56 . Under Article 368 a public prosecutor has a right to participate in the
administrative proceed ings. Chapter 28 of the CAO enumerates the
participants of administrative proceedings and their rights and obligations.
This Chapter does not mention “the prosecution” – a police officer, public
prosecutor or any other public official representing the pros ecution – as a
participant of the proceedings.
III. RELEVANT INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTS
A. “Observations on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan:
Freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of
peaceful assembly”, by the Commissioner for Human Rights of
the Council of Europe, CommDH(2011)33, 29 September 2011
57 . The relevant extracts of t his document read as follows:
“… [T]he Commissioner ’s attention was drawn to the wave of arrests of acti vists and
political opponents in connection with protests held in Baku in March and April 2011.
According to the information received, these protests were sometimes dispersed with
excessive force, and the work of journalists was hindered. The organisers we re denied
permission to demonstrate in a central square and other places in the city centre in
Baku, and were instead authorised to hold a demonstration in the outskirts of the city.
Several persons were detained on grounds of violating public order. Six o pposition
activists were sentenced on 25 August 2011 for participating in ‘actions causing
disturbance of public order ’, following trials whose conformity with human rights
standards has been called into question.
The Commissioner has on various occasions criticised the method of curbing the
impact of a demonstration by allowing it to take place only at another time and at a
less central location, thereby diminishing significantly the visibility of the rally and its
message to the general public. … The Co mmissioner … urges the Azerbaijani
authorities to ensure that the right to freedom of peaceful assembly is fully guaranteed
in Azerbaijan, in accordance with the Court ’s case -law.”
B. Report by Nils Muižnieks, the Commissioner for Human Rights
of the Co uncil of Europe, following his visit to Azerbaijan from
22 to 24 May 2013, CommDH(2013)14, 6 August 2013
58 . The relevant extracts of the Report read as follows:
“… 53. The issue of limitations imposed on freedom of assembly has regularly been
raised by local and international observers in recent years. The most frequent

10 IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT

problems encountered include the banning of demonstrations in central and easily
accessible loca tions and the use of force to disperse the demonstrations which still go
ahead, leading to arrests and, in some cases, harsh sentences. …
61. The Commissioner calls on the authorities to adopt effective measures to
prevent the use of force against peace ful protestors by law enforcement officials. In
particular, he reiterates the recommendation of the 2010 Report, inviting the
authorities to reform the existing system of internal disciplinary investigations of
police ill -treatment and to introduce an inde pendent police complaints body. …
63. Azerbaijan amended its Law on Freedom of Assembly in 2008, following two
opinions adopted by the Council of Europe Venice Commission. While the law is thus
in line with international standards, undue restrictions of the right to freedom of
peaceful assembly are widely reported in practice. The problems mainly stem from
the interpretation of Article 5 of the law. This Article provides for a “notification”
procedure before convening an assembly. In 2006, the Venice Com mission welcomed
the confirmation by representatives of the Government that the requirement in the law
was for notification and not for a prior permission to hold the assembly, noting that
“other provisions of the Law could, as they currently stand, encour age the competent
authorities to issue a blanket prohibition as soon as the notification process proves
incomplete.” In 2007, the Venice Commission added that a system of notification is in
itself admissible so long as it is only meant to help the authorit ies cope more easily
with the practical problems involved with the holding of an assembly; it also stressed
that it is indeed important that assemblies can be held with a presumption of legality
so as to avoid any chilling effect on organisers and particip ants.
64. The Commissioner notes that the authorities have also confirmed that the
legislation does not require permission for rallies. However, the authorities appear to
have interpreted it as requiring such permission, and a system of authorisation has in
practice replaced the system of notification. Peaceful protesters have for instance been
effectively banned from demonstrating in central Baku since 2006, despite advanced
notification of the assemblies. Several requests by the political opposition or c ivil
society to hold demonstrations were allegedly denied or, when allowed, organisers
were obliged to have them in areas very remote from the city centre. …
68. The Commissioner remains concerned by the way the Law on Freedom of
Assembly is currently b eing implemented in Azerbaijan. He therefore calls on the
authorities to assess the functioning of that law. In particular, the authorities should
ensure that no authorisation is required for the holding of public demonstrations and
that the system of noti fication is applied in accordance with European standards.
69. The Commissioner welcomes the announced publication by the authorities of a
list of locations where demonstrations will be made possible, and calls for these to
include adequate locations in t he centre of Baku and other cities, as a first step
towards a better enjoyment of the right to freedom of assembly by the population of
Azerbaijan. Given the need for tolerance in a democratic society, the authorities
should nevertheless seek to facilitate and protect public assemblies at the organisers ’
preferred location. …
75. Another concern relates to the reported non -implementation of due process
standards in proceedings brought against participants in “unauthorised”
demonstrations. …
77. The Co mmissioner is of the view that participants in peaceful assemblies should
not be sanctioned for the mere fact of being present at and actively participating in the
demonstration in question, provided they do not do anything illegal, violent or

IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 11

obscene in t he course of it. The Commissioner therefore urges the authorities to
ensure that no disproportionate sanction, which would undermine the fundamental
right to peaceful assembly, is imposed.
78. Finally, the Commissioner calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to ensure the full
respect of fair trial guarantees for protesters. …”
C. Report by Human Rights Watch, “Tightening the Screws:
Azerbaijan ’s Crackdown on Civil Society and Dissent”, 201 3
59 . The relevant extracts of t he Report read as follows:
“Another manifestation of the government ’s crackdown has been severe limitations
on freedom of assembly. The Baku municipal authorities have implemented a blanket
ban on all opposition demonstrations in the city center since early 2006. The
authorities have broken up unsanctioned ones – often wit h violence – and have
arrested and imprisoned peaceful protestors, organizers, and participants. Our research
shows that the misdemeanor trials of those charged for involvement in unsanctioned
protests are perfunctory. …
While the constitution of Azerbai jan stipulates that groups may peacefully assemble
after simply notifying the relevant government body in advance, in practice authorities
require that gatherings obtain a permit issued by local municipalities. …
Municipal authorities have effectively ba nned all forms of peaceful protest from the
center of Baku and instead force all demonstrations into designated zones on the
outskirts of the city. Such a blanket ban on freedom of assembly in the central areas of
Baku violates Azerbaijan ’s international o bligations to respect freedom of assembly
and expression. …
[F]or several years police have dispersed, at times violently, peaceful protests in
Baku ’s center. In the days before and during the Eurovision Song Contest held in
Baku in May 2012, police brok e up several protests in the city ’s center and briefly
detained dozens of peaceful demonstrators. In 2011 when activists, inspired by the
uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, launched protests in Azerbaijan, the
government responded by arresting hundreds of protesters, activists, and journalists.
Several were convicted of public order offences and imprisoned for up to three years.

The Azerbaijani authorities regularly use administrative, or misdemeanor, charges to
lock up people for organizing or participating in unsanctioned rallies, then prosecuting
and convicting them in perfunctory trials. …”
THE LAW
I. JOINDER OF THE APPLICATIONS
60 . Given similarity of the facts and complaints raised in all three
applications, t he Court has decided to join the applications in accordance
with Rule 42 § 1 of the Rules of Court.

12 IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT

II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE S 10 AND 11 OF THE
CONVENTION
61 . The applicant s complained that the dispersal of the demonstratio n by
the police and their arrest and conviction for an administrative offence had
been in breach of their freedom of assembly and freedom of expression , as
provided for in Article s 10 and 11 of the Convention, which read as follows:
Article 10 (freedom of expression)
“1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include
freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without
interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not
prevent states from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema
enterprises.
2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities,
may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penaltie s as are
prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of
national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or
crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or
rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence,
or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.”
Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association)
“1. Everyone has the right to freed om of peaceful assembly and to freedom of
association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the
protection of his interests.
2. No restrictions shall be placed on the exercise of these rights other than such as
are prescrib ed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of
national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the
protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of
others. This Art icle shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the
exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the
administration of the State.”
A. Admissibility
62 . The Court notes that th ese com plaint s are not manifestly ill -founded
within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further notes
that they are not inadmissible on any other grounds. They must therefore be
declared admissible.
B. Merits
1. The scope of the applicants ’ complaints
63 . The Court notes that, in the circumstances of the case s, Article 10 is
to be regarded as a lex generalis in relation to Article 11, a lex specialis . It is

IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 13

therefore unnecessary to take the complaints under Article 10 into
consideration separately (see Ezelin v. France , 26 April 1991, § 35, Series A
no. 202 ; Kasparov and Others v. Russia , no. 21613/07, §§ 82 -83, 3 October
2013 ; and Kudrevičius and Others v. Lithuania [GC], no. 37553/05, § 85,
15 October 2015 ).
64 . On the other hand, notwithstanding its autonomous role and
particular sphere of application, Article 11 must, in the present case s, also
be considered in the light of Article 10. The protection of personal opinions,
secured by Article 10, is one of the objectives of freedom of peaceful
assembly as enshrined in Article 11 (see Ezelin , cited above, § 37 , and
Kudrevičius and Others , cited above, § 86 ).
2. The parties ’ submissions
65 . The applicants argued that the protest they held was a spontaneous
assembly with a limited number of participants, and therefore no prior
notifica tion of the BCEA was required by law. They complained that the
domestic legislation regulating freedom of assembly did not comply wi th
principles of foreseeability and precision: the requirement of prior
authorisation, which was applied in practice and stemmed from certain
provisions of the Law on Freedom of Assembly of 13 November 1998,
allowed for arbitrary interference with freedom of assembly and permitted
abusive banning or dispersal of public gatherings.
66 . The applicant s also argued that their arrest and conviction under
Article 310.1 of the CAO had been arbitrary since they had not disobeyed
any order o f a police officer.
67 . The applicant s further submitted that the authorities had not taken
into consideration the fact that the demonstration had been intended to be
peaceful and had been held in a peaceful manner.
68 . The Government submitted that the demonstration had been
organised in breach of provisions of national legislation, without specifying
which provisions. They argued that the dispersal of the demonstration had
pursued the aim of protecting pub lic safety and preventing disorder or
crime, and had been proportionate to the aim pursued.
69 . The Government also noted that the applicant s had not been
punished for their participation in the demonstration as such, but for
parti cular behaviour in the course of it, namely for deliberately disobeying
the lawful order of police officers. Commenting on the proportionality of
the measures, the Government emphasised in particular that the sanction
applied to the applicant s had been administrative detention.

14 IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT

3. The Court ’s assessment
(a) Whether there was interference
70 . The Court reiterates that interference with the exercise of freedom of
peaceful assembly does not need to amount to an outright ban, legal or de
facto , but can consist in various other measures taken by the authorities. The
term “restrictions” in Article 11 § 2 must be interpreted as including both
measures taken before or during an assembly and those, such as punitive
measures, ta ken afterwards (see Ezelin , cited above, § 39 , and Kudrevičius
and Others , cited above, § 100 ). For instance, a prior ban can have a chilling
effect on the persons who intend to participate in a rally and thus amount to
interference, even if the rally subs equently proceeds without hindrance on
the part of the authorities (see Bączkowski and Others v. Poland ,
no. 1543/06, §§ 66 -68, 3 May 2007 ). A refusal to allow an individual to
travel for the purpose of attending a meeting amounts to interference as well
(see Djavit An v. Turkey , no. 20652/92, §§ 59 -62, ECHR 2003 -III). So too
do measures taken by the authorities during a rally, such as dispersal of the
rally or the arrest of participants (see Oya Ataman v. Turkey , no. 74552/01,
§§ 7 and 30, ECHR 2006 -XIII, and Hyde Park and Others v. Moldova ,
no. 33482/06, §§ 9, 13, 16, 41, 44 and 48, 31 March 2009), and penalties
imposed for having taken part in a rally (see Ezelin , cited above, § 41;
Osmani and Others v. the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (dec.),
no . 50841/99 , ECHR 2001 -X; Mkrtchyan v. Armeni a, no. 6562/03, § 37,
11 January 2007; Galstyan v. Armenia , no. 26986/03, §§ 100 -102,
15 November 2007; and Sergey Kuznetsov v. Russia , no. 10877/04, § 36,
23 October 2008).
71 . In the present cases it has not been disputed between the parties that
the demonstration in issue was dispersed by the police, and that the
applicants who participated in the demonstration were arrested and
convicted.
72 . The Court takes note of the Government ’s submission that the
applicants were not punished for their participation in the demonstration as
such, but for particular behaviour in the course of it, namely, for
deliberately disobeying the lawful order of police officers. Howev er, the
Court notes that in describing the circumstances of the administrative
offence, the police who arrested the applicants and the domestic courts both
stated that the applicants had failed to stop participating in the unauthorised
demonstration. Accor dingly, the impugned “behaviour” of the applicants
actually consisted of their participation in the demonstration. In such
circumstances, the Court considers that the facts of the cases disclose
interference directly related to the applicants ’ exercise of their right to
freedom of peaceful assembly under Article 11 of the Convention.

IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 15

73 . The Court concludes that there has been interference with the
applicants ’ right to freedom of peaceful assembly on account of both the
dispersal of the demonstration and the applicants ’ arrest and conviction.
(b) Whether the interference was lawful and pursued a legitimate aim
74 . As regards the requirement of lawfulness, the Court notes, firstly, the
fact that the demonstration of 22 May 2011 was dispersed because it had not
been authorised by the BCEA.
75 . The Court observes that the organisers had not submitted to the
BCEA a prior notice about the demonstration of 22 May 2011 . Examining
the applicants ’ argument that no such notice was required by law, the Court
notes that, indeed, according to Article 5 § IV of the Law on Freedom of
Assembly, no prior written notification was required for “spontaneous
assemblies”. Nevertheless, on one hand, the Law does not provide for clear
definition of a “spontaneous assembly”. On the other hand, the applicants
failed to sufficiently substantiate their allegations that the protest, which
they held, had been a spontaneous one. In such circumstances the Cou rt is
ready to accept that the dispersal of the demonstration was lawful.
76 . The Court notes, secondly, that the authorities invoked Article 310.1
(failure to comply with a lawful order of a police officer) of the CAO as the
legal basis for the applicants ’ arrest and conviction, whereas, as already
mentioned, the action (or “behaviour”) held against the applicant s actually
consisted of their participation in the demonstration. In effect, the key
circumstance constituting the basis for the administrative proceedings
against the applicant s was the fact that the demonstration in which they
participated was unauthorised (contrast with Malofeyeva v. Russia ,
no. 36673/04, 30 May 2013 ). In such circumstances t he Court has doubts
about the credibility of the formal ground invoked by the authorities for the
applicants ’ arrest and conviction.
77 . However, given that a more conspicuous problem arises with respect
to the necessity of the interference, the Court considers that it is not
appropriate to limit its examination under Article 11 of the Convention to
the lawfulness of the interference onl y (compare Kakabadze and Others
v. Georgia , no. 1484/07 , § 86, 2 October 2012 , and Hyde Park and Others
v. Moldova (nos. 5 and 6), nos. 6991/08 and 15084/08, § 48, 14 September
2010). Therefore, the Court will examine whether the dispersal of the
demonstra tion and the applicants ’ arrest and conviction were necessary in a
democratic society, which in the specific circumstances will also take into
consideration the issue of whether the interference pursued a legitimate aim.
(c) Whether the interference was n ecessary in a democratic society
78 . When the Court carries out its scrutiny, its task is not to substitute its
own view for that of the relevant national authorities but rather to review
under Article 11 the decisions they deliver ed in the exercise of their

16 IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT

discretion. This does not mean that it has to confine itself to ascertaining
whether the respondent State exercised its discretion reasonably, carefully
and in good faith; it must look at the interference complained of in the li ght
of the case as a whole and determine whether it was “proportionate to the
legitimate aim pursued” and whether the reasons adduced by the national
authorities to justify it are “relevant and sufficient”. In so doing, the Court
has to satisfy itself that the national authorities applied standards which
were in conformity with the principles embodied in Article 11 and,
moreover, that they based their decisions on an acceptable assessment of the
relevant facts (see, among other authorities, United Communist Party of
Turkey and Others v. Turkey , 30 January 1998, § 47, Reports of Judgments
and Decisions 1998 -I; Christian Democratic People ’s Party v. Moldova , no.
28793/02, § 70, ECHR 2006 -II; and Kudrevičius and Others , cited above,
§§ 142 -146 ).
79 . The Court reiterates that it is not a priori contrary to the spirit of
Article 11 if a High Contracting Party requires that the holding of meetings
be subject to notification or even authorisation, as long as the purpose of the
procedure is to allow the authorities to take reasonable and appropriate
measures in order to guarantee the smooth conduct of any assembly,
meeting or other gathering ( see Kudrevičius and Others , cited above, §
147). Nevertheless, an unlawful situation, s uch as the staging of a
demonstration without prior notification or authorisation, does not justify
per se an infringement of freedom of assembly (see Oya Ataman , cited
above, §§ 37 -39). While rules governing public assemblies, such as the
system of prior notification, are essential for the smooth conduct of public
events since they allow the authorities to minimise the disruption to traffic
and take other safety measures, their enforcement cannot become an end in
itself. In particular, where irregular demo nstrators do not engage in acts of
violence, the Court has required that the public authorities show a certain
degree of tolerance towards peaceful gatherings if the freedom of assembly
guaranteed by Article 11 of the Convention is not to be deprived of al l
substance (see Bukta and Others v. Hungary , no. 25691/04, § 34, ECHR
2007 -III; Fáber v. Hungary , no. 40721/08, § 49, 24 July 2012; Malofeyeva ,
cited above, §§ 136 -37; Kasparov and Others , cited above, § 91 ; and
Kudrevičius and Others , cited above, §§ 147 -154 ).
80 . In the present cases the Court observes that the authorities dispersed
the demonstration shortly after it began, despite the fact that it had limited
number of participants, had been intended to be peaceful and had be en
conducted in a peaceful manner up to that point. This already calls into
question the Government ’s assertion about the necessity of the dispersal. It
has not been argued or demonstrated that it would have been difficult for the
police to contain or redi rect protestors, or control the situation otherwise,
protect public safety and prevent any possible disorder or crime. Nor has it
been shown, either at the domestic level or before the Court, that the

IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 17

demonstration posed a high level of disruption of publi c order. It follows
that the authorities have not adduced relevant and sufficient reasons
justifying the dispersal of the demonstration.
81 . As for the applicants ’ arrest and conviction, t he Court emphasises
that none of the docume nts drawn up by the police indicated whether any
order had been specifically addressed to each applicant (apart from a
demand addressed to the protesters at large to stop the demonstration). Nor
did they specify who had given such an order and when, or ind icate its exact
wording. Furthermore, the fact that the protesters, including the applicants,
began to run away and leave the place as soon as they noticed the police
approaching showed their willingness to end the demonstration in order to
avoid confronting the police. In such circumstances, reference by the
authorities to Article 310.1 of the CAO as a ground for the applicants ’ arrest
and conviction appears to be unsubstantiated. Despite being formally
charged with failure to comply with a lawful order of a police officer, the
applicant s in fact were arrested and convicted for their participation in an
unauthorised peaceful demonstration. The Court notes that at the material
time, no penalty in the form of deprivation of liberty was provided for u nder
the CAO for participating in an unauthorised public assembly or generally
for violation of rules on holding public assemblies . Nevertheless, the first
and third applicant s each were sentenced to seven days ’ and the second
applicant to eight days ’ “adm inistrative” detention on charges that they had
failed to stop participating in the unauthorised demonstration. It follows that
the arbitrary reference to Article 310.1 of the CAO as a ground for the
applicants ’ arrest and conviction also made it possible to apply a penalty
which was otherwise not applicable to the action held against them .
82 . The Court further notes the lack of any acknowledgment that the
action imputed to the applicant s by the authorities, namely participation in
an unauthorised peaceful demonstration, was by itself protected by
Article 11 of the Convention. The authorities made no effort to balance the
applicants ’ right to participate in the demonstration against any d amage this
could cause to other public or private interests.
83 . Lastly, the domestic courts ’ decisions do not contain any findings
that the applicants ’ specific actions during the demonstration necessitated
their arrest and conviction . Nothing in the materials before the Court
suggests that the applicant s committed any reprehensible offence during the
demonstration.
84 . In such circumstances, it follows that the authorities did not adduce
sufficient and relevant reasons justifying the applicants ’ arrest and
conviction. Moreover, the sanction imposed on them was unwarranted by
the circumstances of the case and disproportionate within the meaning of
Article 11 of the Convention.

18 IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT

(d) Conclusion
85 . Having regard to the above considerations, the Court concludes that
the authorities failed to act with due tolerance and good faith as regards the
applicants ’ right to freedom of assembly, did not adduce suffici ent and
relevant reasons justifying the interference, and imposed a sanction which
was disproportionate in the circumstances.
86 . The dispersal of the demonstration and the applicants ’ arrest and
conviction could not but have the e ffect of discouraging them from
participating in political rallies. Those measures had a serious potential also
to deter other opposition supporters and the public at large from attending
demonstrations and, more generally, from participating in open polit ical
debate.
87 . There has accordingly been a violation of Article 11 of the
Convention.
III. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 OF THE CONVENTION
88 . The applicant s complained under Article 6 of the Convention that in
the proceedings concerning the alleged administrative offence, they had not
had a fair and public hearing. The relevant parts of Article 6 of the
Convention read as follows:
“1. In the determination of … any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled
to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial
tribunal established by law. …
3. Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the following minimum rights:
(a) to be informed promptly, in a language which he understands and in detail, of
the nature and cause of the accusation against him;
(b) to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence;
(c) to defend himself in person or throug h legal assistance of his own choosing or,
if he has not sufficient means to pay for legal assistance, to be given it free when the
interests of justice so require; …”
A. Admissibility
89 . Although the applicability of Article 6 to the administrative
proceedings in question is not in dispute, the Court considers it necessary to
address this issue of its own motion. The Court notes that the first and third
applicants each were sentenced to seven days ’ and the second applicant to
eight days ’ administrative detention, the purpose of the sanction being
purely punitive. Therefore, referring to its findings in its well -established
case -law, the Court considers that the proceedings in the present cases
should be classified as determining a criminal charge against the applicants ,
even though they are characterised as “administrative” under Azerbaijani

IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 19

legislation (see Ziliberberg v. Moldova , no. 61821/00, §§ 30 -35, 1 February
2005; Menesheva v. Russia , no. 59261/00, §§ 95 -98, ECHR 2006 -III; and
Galstyan , §§ 56 -60, cited above ; see also Asadbeyli and Others v.
Azerbaijan , nos. 3653/05, 14729/05, 20908/05, 26242/05, 36083/05 and
16519/06, §§ 152 -55, 11 December 2012 ).
90 . The Court further notes that the complaints are not manifestly ill –
founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It
further notes that they are not inadmissible on any other grounds. They must
therefore be declared admissible.
B. Merits
1. The parties ’ submissions
91 . The applicant s submitted, in particular, that they had not been
served, either prior to the hearing before the respective first -instance court s
or subsequently, with a copy of the administrative -offence report s issued in
their respect or with other materials in their respective case file s, and that
the hearing before the first -instance court s had been very brief. They also
argued that the courts had based their findings merely on the administrative –
offence report s and on the sta tement s of a police officer who had been the
sole witness questioned at the respective first -instance hearing s. The
applicant s further submitted that they had not been represented by a lawyer
at the pre -trial stage or before the first -instance court s. Last ly, the applicant s
argued that the public had not been allowed to attend the hearing before the
respective first -instance court s, even though the court s had not issued an
official decision to examine their case s in a closed hearing.
92 . The Government submitted that the administrative proceedings with
respect to the applicant s had been in line with the national legislation. In
particular, the time -limit for lodging an appeal with the Court of Appeal
against the respective decision s of the first -instance court s was ten days, so
the applicant s had had adequate time and facilities to prepare their defence.
The Government also submitted in general terms that during the court
proceedings the principle of equality of arms had been respecte d.
2. The Court ’s assessment
93 . The Court reiterates that Article 6 of the Convention guarantees the
right to a fair hearing, and the Court ’s task is to ascertain whether the
proceedings as a whole, including the way in which evi dence was obtained
and heard, were fair, in particular, whether the applicant was given the
opportunity of challenging the evidence and of opposing its use; and
whether the principles of adversarial proceedings and equality of arms
between the prosecution and the defence were respected (see Bykov v.

20 IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT

Russia [GC], no. 4378/02, §§ 88, 90, 10 March 2009 , and Rowe and Davis
v. the United Kingdom [GC], no. 28901/95, § 60, ECHR 2000 -II).
94 . The requirements of Article 6 § 3 are to be seen as particular aspects
of the right to a fair trial guaranteed by Article 6 § 1 (see Sakhnovskiy
v. Russia [GC], no. 21272/03, § 94, 2 November 2010). The Court will
therefore examine the complaints under both provisions taken together (see,
among many other authorities, F.C.B. v. Italy , 28 August 1991, § 29, Series
A no. 208 -B, and Poitrimol v. France , 23 November 1993, § 29, Series A
no. 277 -A). In so doing, it will examine in turn each of the various gro unds
giving rise to the present complaints in order to determine whether the
proceedings, considered as a whole, were fair (see, for a similar approach,
Asadbeyli and Others , cited above, § 130).
(a) Right to adequate time and facilities to prepare one ’s defence
95 . Article 6 § 3 (b) guarantees the accused “adequate time and facilities
for the preparation of his defence”. The accused must have the opportunity
to organise his defence in an appropriate way and without restriction of the
possibility to put all relevant defence arguments before the trial court and
thus to influence the outcome of the proceedings. Furthermore, the facilities
which everyone charged with a criminal offence should enjoy include the
opportunity to acquaint h imself, for the purposes of preparing his defence,
with the results of investigations carried out throughout the proceedings (see
Moiseyev v. Russia , no. 62936/00, § 220, 9 October 2008). The issue of
adequacy of time and facilities afforded to an accused must be assessed in
the light of the circumstances of each particular case (see Malofeyeva , cited
above, § 112).
96 . The present cases were examined in an expedited procedure under
the CAO: in cases concerning an administrative charge for an offence
punishable by administrative detention, the police were to transmit the
administrative -offence file to a court immediately after having comp iled it,
and the court was to examine the case on the same day, or, in the case of
persons being held in police custody, no later than forty -eight hours after the
arrest (see paragraphs 54 and 55 above). The Court reiterates that recourse
to that procedure when a “criminal charge” must be determined is not in
itself contrary to Article 6 of the Convention as long as the procedure
provides the necessary safeguards and guarantees (see Borisova v. Bulgaria ,
no. 56891/00, § 40, 21 December 2006).
97 . Turning to the question of procedural safeguards and guarantees, the
Court notes that the pre -trial procedure in the applicants ’ cases was very
brief. The applicants were arrested at approximately 5.30 p.m. on 22 May
2011 and between 6.15 p. m. and 6.30 p.m. administrative -offence reports
were drawn up. A ll three applicants maintained that they had been kept in
police custody overnight. Although the administrative -arrest reports with
regard to the first and second applicants stated that they h ad been released

IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 21

on 22 May 2011 , the reports did not specify the time of the alleged releases.
In such circumstances and in the absence of any specific observations of the
Government on the issue, the Court has no reason to doubt the applicants ’
submission s that they had spent the night in police custody and had been
brought before the Sabail District Court for the trial hearings, which began
between 12.30 p.m. and 12.40 p.m. on 23 May 2011. Evidently, during their
stay at the police station the applicants were secluded from the outside
world. The ir situation was aggravated by the fact that they were not
represented by a lawyer during the pre -trial procedure.
98 . The Court further notes that by virtue of Article 410.4 of the CAO
the applicants were entitled to receive a copy of the administrative -offence
reports drawn up in respect of them. However, no copy of the reports was
made available to the applicants. Furthermore, the respective Courts of
Appel failed to reply to the applicant s’ requests for a copy of the
administrative -offence reports and of certain other materials in their case
files.
99 . Even assuming that the applicants ’ cases were not complex, the
Court doubts that the circumstances in which the respective trials were
conducted were such as to enable them to familiarise themselves properly
with and to assess adequately the charges and evidence against them and to
develop a viable legal strategy for their defence (compare Vyerentsov v.
Ukraine, no. 20372/11 , § 76, 11 April 2013 ).
100 . Furthermore, the CAO did not require the mandatory participation
of a public prosecutor or other public officer rep resenting the prosecution,
who would present the case against the defendant before a judge (see
paragraph 56 above). It appears that the accusation against the second and
third applicants was both presented and examined by the judges of the
respective firs t-instance court s. The Court is not satisfied that such a state of
affairs afforded the applicants an opportunity to put forward an adequate
defence in adversarial proceedings.
101 . In these circumstances the Court concludes that t he applicants were
not afforded adequate time and facilities to prepare their defence .
(b) Right to a reasoned decision
102 . The Court ’s duty, under Article 19 of the Convention, is to ensure
observance of the commitments undertaken by the Contracting Parties to the
Convention. In particular, it is not its function to deal with errors of fact or
of law allegedly committed by a national co urt unless and in so far as they
may have infringed rights and freedoms protected by the Convention (see
Schenk v. Switzerland , 12 July 1988, §§ 45 -46, Series A no. 140, and
Teixeira de Castro v. Portugal , 9 June 1998, § 34, Reports 1998 -IV). In that
conte xt, regard must also be had, in particular, to whether the applicant was
given the opportunity of challenging the authenticity of the evidence and of
opposing its use. The quality of the evidence is also taken into account,

22 IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT

including whether the circumstan ces in which it was obtained cast doubt on
its reliability or accuracy (see Jalloh v. Germany [GC], no. 54810/00, § 96,
ECHR 2006 -IX).
103 . According to the Court ’s established case -law reflecting a principle
related to the proper administration of justice, judgments of courts and
tribunals should adequately state the reasons on which they are based. The
extent to which this duty to give reasons applies may vary according to the
nature of the decision and must be determined in the l ight of the
circumstances of the case (see García Ruiz v. Spain [GC], no. 30544/96,
§ 26, ECHR 1999 -I, with further references).
104 . In the present cases, the respective first -instance courts examined
the applicants ’ cases in oral hearings where the applicants were given an
opportunity to make their submissions. However, the courts relied heavily
on the administrative -offence reports prepared by the police and on the
statements of police officer R.G., the sole witness questioned in respective
hearings in all three cases. The Court notes that that witness was one of the
police officers who had arrested the applicants, and was supposed “victim”
of the alleged administrative offence under Article 310.1 of the CAO .
Moreove r the administrative -offence reports in respect of the applicants
were based on R.G. ’s report to a superior police officer . The domestic
courts failed to provide adequate reasons why they considered the witness
statements of the police officer more objecti ve and reliable than those of the
applicants. It is also regrettable that the domestic courts did not attempt to
summon witnesses who were not connected with the police.
105 . Furthermore, the applicants ’ arguments before the domest ic courts
concerned both the factual circumstances and the legal issues of their cases.
The applicants consistently argued that they had not disobeyed an order of a
police officer, and that they had been arrested for participation in a peaceful
demonstrati on. They also challenged the legality of the police ’s interference
with the demonstration. In particular, in their appeals they argued that the
legal basis invoked by the police for their arrest had been arbitrary; and that
there were no circumstances just ifying dispersal of the demonstration since
it had been peaceful. In the Court ’s opinion, those arguments were both
important and pertinent. Nevertheless, the domestic courts, in particular the
Court of Appeal, which examined the applicants ’ written argume nts on the
issue, ignored them altogether.
106 . The Court has previously held, in examining the fairness of
criminal proceedings, that by ignoring a specific, pertinent and important
point made by the accused, the domestic courts h ad fallen short of their
obligations under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention (see Nechiporuk and
Yonkalo v. Ukraine , no. 42310/04, § 280, 21 April 2011). Considering that
in the present case s the domestic courts similarly did not meet that
requirement, the C ourt concludes that the domestic courts ’ decisions lacked
adequate reasoning.

IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 23

(c) Right to legal assistance
107 . The Court reiterates that, although not absolute, the right of
everyone charged with a criminal offence to be effectively defended by a
lawyer, assigned officially if need be, is one of the fundamental features of a
fair trial (see Krombach v. France , no. 29731/96, § 89, ECHR 2001 -II).
108 . The Court emphasises that Article 6 will normally require that the
accused be allowed to benefit from the assistance of a lawyer already at the
initial stages of police questioning (see John Murray v. the United King dom ,
8 February 1996, § 63, Reports 1996 -I). Even where compelling reasons
may exceptionally justify denial of access to a lawyer, such restriction –
whatever its justification – must not unduly prejudice the rights of the
accused under Article 6 (see Sald uz v. Turkey [GC], no. 36391/02, § 55,
ECHR 2008 , and Dvorski v. Croatia [GC], no. 25703/11, §§ 77 -80,
20 October 2015 ).
109 . The Court also notes that the right of an accused to participate
effectively in a criminal trial includes, in general, not only the right to be
present, but also the right to receive legal assistance, if necessary (see
Lagerblom v. Sweden , no. 26891/95, § 49, 14 January 2003 ). The waiver of
a right guaranteed by the Convention – insofar as it is permissible – must be
established in an unequivocal manner and must be attended by minimum
safeguards commensurate with its importance (see Colozza v. Italy ,
12 February 1985, § 28, Series A no. 89 ).
110 . In the present cases, the right to legal representation was
guaranteed to the applicants by the CAO. However, at the pre -trial stage of
the proceedings the applicants were not represented by a lawyer. From the
materials before the Court i t does not appear that they had expressly waived
their right to a lawyer.
111 . According to the applicants, after their arrest they were questioned
at the police station. However, no records of such questioning were
submitted to the Court. Nor is there any evidence that the statements made
by the applicants (if any) during the questioning were used during the trial.
The Court cannot speculate on the exact impact which the applicants ’ access
to a lawyer during the pre -trial stage of the proceedings would have had on
the ensuing proceedings and whether the absence of a lawyer during that
period irretrievably affected their defence rights (compare Huseyn and
Others v. Azerbaijan , nos. 35485/05, 45553/05, 35680/05 and 36085/05 ,
§ 172, 26 July 2011 ). Nevertheless, the Court reiterates that the very fact of
restricting a detained suspect ’s access to a lawyer may prejudice the rights
of the defence, even where an accused person remained sil ent, or was not
questioned, or no incriminating statements were obtained (see, for example,
Dayanan v. Turkey , no. 7377/03, §§ 32 -33, 13 October 2009).
112 . Turning to the applicants ’ arguments that at the respective first –
instance courts their right to legal assistance of their own choosing was
breached and that they were not represented by any lawyer, the Court notes,

24 IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT

firstly, that, under Article 376.2 of the CAO a judge must provide a person
against whom an administrative case is being examined with a lawyer only
if the attendance of a lawyer of his or her own choice is impossible. Nothing
in the materials before the Court suggests that before proposing for them
State -funded legal assistance the judges gave the applicants an oppor tunity
to appoint a lawyer of their own choice, as required under Article 376.2 of
the CAO (see Dvorski , cited above, §§ 77 -80 ). Secondly, even if the
applicants refused State -funded legal assistance, it must be ascertained that
such refusal amounted to an unequivocal waiver of the right to a lawyer.
However, having already established that the applicants were not afforded
legal assistance at the pre -trial stage, the Court finds it unnecessary to rule
on th e issue whether their refusal of State -funded leg al assistance at the trial
constituted an unequivocal waiver of the right to a lawyer .
113 . The Court concludes that the applicants ’ right to legal assistance
was not respected.
(d) Conclusion
114 . Having regard to the above findings, the Court considers that there
is no need to examine the applicants ’ arguments concerning the alleged lack
of a public hearing.
115 . Furthermore, in view of the entirety of the above conclusions, the
Court finds that the proceedings against all three applicants, considered as a
whole, were not in conformity with the guarantees of a fair hearing under
Article 6 §§ 1 and 3 of the Convention.
IV. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 5 OF THE CONVENTION
116 . The applicant s complained that their arrest and administrative
detention following their participation in the demonstration had been in
breach of Article 5 of the Convention. Article 5 of the Convention, in so far
as relevant, reads as follows:
“1. Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be
deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure
prescribed by law:
(a) the lawful detention of a person after conviction by a co mpetent court; …
(c) the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing
him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having
committed an offence or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his
committing an offence or fleeing after having done so; …
2. Everyone who is arrested shall be informed promptly, in a language which he
understands, of the reasons for his arrest and of any charge against him.
3. Everyone arrested or detained in a ccordance with the provisions of
paragraph 1 (c) of this Article shall be brought promptly before a judge or other
officer authorised by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within

IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 25

a reasonable time or to release pending trial. Rel ease may be conditioned by
guarantees to appear for trial.”
A. Admissibility
117 . The Court considers, in the light of the parties ’ submissions, that
these complaints raise serious issues of fact and law under the Convention,
the determination of which requires an examination of the merits. The Court
concludes therefore that these complaints are not manifestly ill -founded
within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention . It further notes
that they are not inadmissible on any other grounds. They must therefore be
declared admissible.
B. Merits
1. The parties ’ submissions
118 . The applicant s argued that their arrest and administrative detention
under Article 310.1 (failure to comply with a lawful order of a police
officer) of the CAO had been arbitrary since they had not disobeyed any
order of a police officer. The opening of administrative proceedings against
participants of unauthorised demonstrations under Article 310.1 rather than
Article 298 (violation of rules on holding public assemblies) of the CAO
was an arbitrary administrative practice aimed at imposing a harsher form of
punishment, such as administr ative detention for up to fifteen days, which
was not available under the latter Article.
119 . The applicant s further complained that they had not been promptly
informed about the reasons for their arrest, and that the arrest had n ot
conformed to domestic procedural rules, in particular because they had not
been given an opportunity to contact their relatives; their rights, including
the right to have a lawyer, had not been properly explained to them ; and
they had not been served wi th a copy of the administrative -offence report s
drawn up in their respect.
120 . The Government submitted that the applicants ’ arrest had been in
conformity with Article 399.3 of the CAO. According to this Article, a
person in respe ct of whom proceedings are carried out for an administrative
offence punishable by administrative detention may be taken into custody
for up to twenty -four hours. The Government further submitted that after the
administrative -offence report s stating that t he applicant s had violated
Article 310 of the CAO had been drawn up, the applicant s had been brought
before a court. Their administrative detention had resulted from lawful court
decision s by which they had been found guilty of an administrative offence
under Article 310.1 of the CAO.
121 . The Government also submitted that the applicant s had been duly
informed about the reasons for their arrest as well as their rights under the

26 IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT

relevant provisions of the CAO; however, they had refused to sign the
administrative -offence report s and a relevant note had accordingly been
included in the report s.
2. The Court ’s assessment
122 . The Court reiterates that Articl e 5 of the Convention guarantees the
fundamental right to liberty and security. That right is of primary
importance in a “democratic society” within the meaning of the Convention
(see De Wilde, Ooms and Versyp v. Belgium , 18 June 1971, § 65, Series A
no. 12, and Winterwerp v. the Netherlands , 24 October 1979, § 37, Series A
no. 33).
123 . Any deprivation of liberty must, in addition to falling within one of
the exceptions set out in sub -paragraphs (a) to (f), be “lawful”. Where the
“lawfulness” of detention is in issue, including the question whether “a
procedure prescribed by law” has been followed, the Convention refers
essentially to national law and lays down the obligation to conform to the
sub stantive and procedural rules of national law (see Saadi v. the United
Kingdom [GC], no. 13229/03, § 67, 29 January 2008). Compliance with
national law is not, however, sufficient: Article 5 § 1 requires in addition
that any deprivation of liberty should b e in keeping with the purpose of
protecting the individual from arbitrariness (see Bozano v. France ,
18 December 1986, § 54, Series A no. 111, and Kafkaris v. Cyprus [GC],
no. 21906/04, § 116, ECHR 2008).
124 . It is a fundamental p rinciple that no detention which is arbitrary can
be compatible with Article 5 § 1 and the notion of “arbitrariness” in
Article 5 § 1 extends beyond lack of conformity with national law, so that
deprivation of liberty may be lawful in terms of domestic law but still
arbitrary and thus contrary to the Convention (see Saadi , cited above, § 67).
While the Court has not previously formulated a global definition as to what
types of conduct on the part of the authorities might constitute
“arbitrariness” for the p urposes of Article 5 § 1, key principles have been
developed on a case -by -case basis (see Mooren v. Germany [GC],
no. 11364/03, § 77, 9 July 2009 ).
125 . Furthermore, detention will be considered “arbitrary” where,
despite complying with the letter of national law, there has been an element
of bad faith or deception on the part of the authorities (see, for example,
Bozano , cited above, § 59, and Saadi , cited above, § 69) or where the
domestic authorities neglected to attempt to apply the relevant legislation
correctly (see Benham v. the United Kingdom , 10 June 1996, § 47, Reports
1996 -III, and Liu v. Russia , no. 42086/05, § 82, 6 December 2007).
126 . Turning to the present cases, the Court observes that the applicants
were arrested in the course of the dispersal of an unauthorised
demonstration on 22 May 2011. They were taken to a police station where
they were kept in police custody overnight, and were brought before

IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 27

respective first -instance courts. T he fir st and third applicants each were
sentenced to seven days ’ and the second applicant to eight days ’
“administrative” detention .
127 . The Court reiterates its finding above that the measure to which the
applicant s were subjected (nam ely arrest and custody followed by several
days ’ imprisonment) pursued aims unrelated to the formal ground relied on
to justify the deprivation of liberty, and implied an element of bad faith on
the part of the police officers. While they were formally charged with
failure to comply with a lawful order of a police officer, the applicant s were
in fact detained for their participation in an unauthorised peaceful
demonstration (see paragraphs 76 and 81 above). Furthermore, there are
sufficient elements to c onclude that the domestic courts that imposed the
administrative detention also acted arbitrarily in reviewing both the factual
and the legal grounds for the applicants ’ detention (see paragraph 10 5
above). In such circumstances, the Court cannot but concl ude that the
applicants ’ deprivation of liberty as a whole was arbitrary and therefore
contrary to the requirements of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention.
128 . Accordingly, there has been a violation of Article 5 § 1 of the
Convention .
129 . In view of the nature and the scope of its finding above, the Court
does not consider it necessary to examine the applicants ’ other complaints
under Article 5 of the Convention.
V. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
130 . Article 41 of the Convention provides:
“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols
thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only
part ial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to
the injured party.”
A. Damage
131 . In respect of non -pecuniary damage t he first and third applicant s
claimed 20, 000 euros (EUR) each and t he sec ond applicant claimed
EUR 21,000 .
132 . The Government submitted that the applicants ’ claims were
unsubstantiated and unreasonable. They considered that, in any event, an
award of EUR 5,000 for each applicant would constitute sufficient just
satisfaction.
133 . The Court considers that the applicants have suffered n on –
pecuniary damage which cannot be compensated for solely by the finding of
a violation, and that compensation should thus be awarded. Making its
assessment on an equitable basis, as required by Article 41 of the

28 IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT

Convention, the Court awards each applican t the sum of EUR 12 ,000 under
this head, plus any tax that may be chargeable on this amount.
B. Costs and expenses
134 . The applicant s also claimed EUR 3,300 each for the legal fees
incurred before the domestic courts and before t he Court. In support of their
claims, they submitted contracts, dated 25 May 2011, 24 May 2011 and
24 May 2011 respectively, for legal and translation services.
135 . The Government considered that the claims were excessive and
could not be regarded as reasonable as to quantum. In particular, they
argued that the applicants were represented by the same lawyers who were
representing a number of other applicants in similar cases and that
substantial parts of the submissions in all those cases were identical or very
similar.
136 . The Government submitted that, taking into account the above
considerations, the amount of legal aid already granted to the applicants
should be deemed as sufficient reimbursement of costs and expenses.
137 . According to the Court ’s case -law, an applicant is entitled to the
reimbursement of costs and expenses only in so far as it has been shown
that these have been actually and necessarily incurred and are reasonable as
to quantum. The Court notes that in the Strasbourg proceedings all three
applicants were represented by the same lawyers, Mr R. Mustafazade and
Mr A. Mustafayev, and that those lawyers ’ submissions in all three cases
were very similar. The Court therefore awards the total amount of
EUR 7,500 to all three applicants jo intly in respect of the legal services
rendered by Mr R. Mustafazade and Mr A. Mustafayev, less EUR 1,900
already paid in legal aid by the Council of Europe.
C. Default interest
138 . The Court considers it appropriate that the def ault interest rate
should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank,
to which should be added three percentage points.
FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT , UNANIMOUSLY,
1. Decides to join the applications;

2. Declares the applications admissible;

IBRAHIMOV AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 29

3. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 11 of the Convention on
account of the dispersal of the demonstration and the applicants ’ arrest
and conviction;

4. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 6 § § 1 and 3 of the
Convention in respect of all three applicants ;

5. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 5 of the Convention in
respect of all three applicants ;

6. Holds
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant s, within three
months of the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance
with Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, the following amounts, to be
converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable
at the date of settlement:
(i) EUR 12 ,000 (twelve thousand euros), plus any tax that may be
chargeable, to the first applicant, in respect of non -pecuniary
damage;
(ii) EUR 12 ,000 (twelve thousand euros), plus any tax that may be
chargeable, to the second applicant, in respect of non -pecuniary
dam age;
(iii) EUR 12 ,000 (twelve thousand euros), plus any tax that may be
chargeable, to the third applicant, in respect of non -pecuniary
damage;
(iv) EUR 5,600 ( five thousand six hundred euros), plus any tax that
may be chargeable to the applicant s, in respect of costs and
expenses, to be paid directly into their representatives ’ bank
account;
(b) that from the expiry of the above -mentioned three months until
settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a
rate equal to the ma rginal lending rate of the European Central Bank
during the default period plus three percentage points;

7. Dismisses the remainder of the applicants ’ claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 11 February 2016 , pursuant
to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Claudia Westerdiek Angelika Nu ßberger
Registrar President

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