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Najafly v. Azerbaijan, Application No. 2594/07

FIRST SECTION

CASE OF NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN

(Application no. 2594/07 )

JUDGMENT

STRASBOURG

2 October 2012

FINAL

02/01/2013

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

NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 1
In the case of Najafli v. Azerbaijan ,
The European Court of Human Rights ( First Section ), sitting as a
Chamber composed of:
Nina Vajić , President,
Anatoly Kovler ,
Khanlar Hajiyev ,
Mirjana Lazarova Trajkovska ,
Julia Laffranque ,
Linos -Alexandre Sicilianos ,
Erik Møse , judges,
and Søren Nielsen , Section Registrar ,
Having deliberated in private on 11 September 2012 ,
Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:
PROCEDURE
1. The case originated in an application (no. 2594/07) 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 an Azerbaijani national, Mr Ramiz Huseyn oglu
Najafli ( Ramiz Hüseyn oğlu Nəcəfli – “the applicant”), on 12 December
2006 .
2. The applicant was represented by Mr I. Aliyev, a lawyer practising in
Baku. The Azerbaijani Government (“the Government”) were represented
by their Agent, Mr Ç. Asgarov .
3. The applicant alleged, in particular, that he had been beaten up by the
polic e during the dispersa l of a demonstration and that the domestic
authorities had failed to investigate this incident effectively .
4. On 7 January 2008 the application was communicated to the
Gove rnment. It was also decided to rule on the admissibility and merits of
the application at the same time (Article 29 § 1).
THE FACTS
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CASE
5. The applicant was born in 1967 and lives in Baku .

2 NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT
A. The alleged ill -treatment
6. The applicant was a journalist and the editor -in-chief of a newspaper
named Boz Qurd .
7. On 9 October 2005 a number of opposition parties held an
unauthorised demonstration in Baku. The applic ant, together with five other
journalists, was present at the demonstration to report on the events. The
applicant was not wearing a special blue vest identifying him as a journalist,
but he was wearing a journalist badge on his chest .
8. During the dispersal of the demonstration by the police , the applicant
and his colleagues were beaten up and received various injuries. According
to the applicant, he told the police officers that he was a journalist and asked
them to stop. The applicant was hit on the head and lost consciousness
following his beating.
9. The applicant was taken to hospital the same day . On
26 October 2005 he received a medical certificate with a diagnosis of closed
crani o-cerebral trauma, concussion and soft -tissue damage to the crown of
the head.
10 . On 10 July 2006 the applicant obtained a medical certificate from
Baku City Polyclinic no. 19. That certificate indicated that the applicant had
bee n registered as a patient diagnosed with closed cranio -cerebral trauma
and concussion , and that his condition required long -term treatment.
B. The criminal proceedings
11 . The six journalists who had been beaten up on 9 October 2005
lodged a joint criminal complaint. On 9 November 2005 the Sabail District
Police Department instituted criminal proceedings under Article 132
(beating) of the Criminal Code. On 22 December 2005 the case was re –
qualified under Article 163 (obstruction of the lawful professional activity
of journalists) of the Criminal Code and transferred to the Sabail District
Prosecutor ’s Office.
12 . On 12 January 2006 the applicant was questioned by the investigator
in charge of the case . Th e applicant stated that he had been beaten with
truncheon s by a group of police officers wh ile he was observ ing the
demonstration as a journalist. The applicant also stated that he did not know
the police officers who had hit him, although he did know the p olice officers
who were in charge of the police unit . The applicant submitted a photo of an
officer (A.V.) who was the head of the Riot Police Regiment of the Baku
Police Office. The applicant ’s version of the events was also confirmed by
statements from two other journalists, E.M. and N.A., who were present at
the relevant time at the place of the incident.
13 . According to the Government, on 28 January 2006 the investigator
ordered a forensic examination of the applicant , but the applicant did not

NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 3
appear for this examination. No copy of any decision in this respect was
submitted by the Government to the Court. The applicant alleged that he
had not b een informed of this decision by the investigator.
14 . By a letter of 2 February 2006, the investigator in charge of the case
requested the S abail District Police Department to identify the police
officers who had hit the applicant. In reply to t he investigator ’s letter, on
25 February 2006 the Head of the S abail District Police Department wrote
that they had not been able to identify the relevant police officers , however
they would continue to take measures in this respect and inform the
investigator of any result.
15 . On 1 March 2006 the investigator heard A.V. , who denied
involvement in the applicant ’s beating. A.V. stated that neither he nor the
police officers under his supervision had done anything unlawful to the
applicant in his presence .
16 . On 9 March 2006 the S abail District Prosecutor ’s Office investigator
issued a decision suspending the criminal proceedings until the perpetrators
of the beating had been identified . The investigator relied on the fact that the
police officers allegedly involved in the ap plicant ’s beating had not been
identified . As to A.V. ’s alleged involvement, the investigator relied on
A.V. ’s statements, noting that the latter had not carried out any unlawful
action s against the applicant .
17 . The applicant was not provided with any information concerning the
criminal inv estigation until May 2006. On 9 May 2006 the applicant
contacted the Sabail District Prosecutor ’s Office investigator and inquired
about the state of the proceedings. The investigator informed him that the
criminal investigation had been suspended on 9 March 2006, but did not
provide the applicant with a copy of the decision suspending the
investigation.
18 . On 12 May 2006 the applicant lodged a complaint with the Sabail
District Court. He complained that the investigator had failed to provide
him with a copy of the decision suspending the investigation, thus making it
impossible f or him to lodge a proper complaint against it. He also asked the
court to quash this decision and remit the case for investigation. He insisted ,
in particular, that the group of police officers who had hit him had been
under A.V. ’s command , and that the ph oto of A.V. taken at the time of the
incident had been submitted to the police.
19 . On 26 May 2006 the Sabail District Court dismissed the applicant ’s
complaint, finding that the decision suspending the investigation had been
lawfu l and had been sent to the applicant on 9 March 2006. The decision
was silent as to A.V. and his alleged role in the applicant ’s beating. It
appears that the court did not hear any witness at the hearing.
20 . On 1 June 2006 the app licant lodged an appeal reiterating his
previous complaints. In particular, he argued that the suspension of the
investigation , for which the reason given was that it was impossible to

4 NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT
identify the policemen who had beaten him , was wrong , and that the
inve stigation authorities knew who the perpetrators were. In this connection,
he noted that he and other journalists had specifically identified A.V. , who
was present at the scene of the incident at the relevant time.
21 . On 13 June 2006 the Court of Appeal dismissed the applicant ’s
appeal and upheld the Sabail District Court ’s deci sion of 26 May 2006.
C. The civil proceedings
22 . On 9 November 2006 the applicant lodged a separate civil action
against the Min istry of Internal Affairs , asking for compensation for
pecuniary and non -pecuniary damage caused by his beating on
9 October 2005. He relied on Articles 3, 10 and 11 of the Convention.
23 . On 20 November 2006 the Sabail District Co urt refused to admit the
action for non -complian ce with the formal requirements. The court held that
the applicant had failed, in particular, to provide a forensic report showing
the cause of the injuries and had not supplied a copy of any document
showing that a police officer had been found responsible for the applicant ’s
beating. The court also noted that the applicant had failed to identify actual
individuals , rather than the Ministry of Internal Affairs in general, as
defendants .
24 . On 6 December 2006 the applicant appealed against the first –
instance court ’s inadmissibility decision , reiterating his previous
complaints.
25 . On 26 January 2007 the Court of Appeal upheld the Sabail District
Court ’s decis ion of 20 November 2006.
26 . On 14 June 2007 the Supreme Court upheld the decisions of the
lower courts.
II. RELEVANT DOMESTIC LAW
A. The Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan
27 . Article 46 (III) of the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan
reads as follows:
“No one shall be subjected to torture or ill -treatment. No one shall be subjected to
degrading treatment or punishment. …”
B. Law on Police of 28 October 1999
28 . Police officers may use special equipment when, inter alia , it is
considered that a person who is behaving dangerously may cause damage to

NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 5
himself or people around him (Article 26.II). “Special equipment” is defined
as truncheons, arm -restraining instruments , tear gas, rubber bullets, water
cannons and other means (Articles 1). Physical force, special equipment or
firearms may be used when absolutely necessary in a manner proportionate
to the danger posed. The police authorities must carry out an inquiry into
every incident involving the use of physical force, special equipment or
firearms , and must issue a pertinent opinion on its lawfulness
(Article 26.VII). Unlawful use of force by a police officer entails the
officer ’s responsibility under the r elevant legislation (Article 26.IX).
29 . Police officers may use physical force, special equipment or firearms
only in the event of absolute necessity or necessary self -defence, after all
other means of coercion have failed to prod uce the required result, and
depending on the gravity of the offence and the character of the offender
(Article 27.I.1). Anyone injured as a result of the use of physical force,
special equipment or firearms must be provided with the necessary medical
aid (Article 27.I.5). The police officer must report to the relevant police
authority, in writing, on the occasions he or she used physical force, special
equipment or firearms (Article 27.I.7). The relevant prosecutor must also be
informed of any such use of force within twenty -four hours (Article 27.I.8).
THE LAW
I. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 3 OF THE CONVENTION
30 . The applicant complained that he had been beaten up by police and
that the domestic authorities had failed to carry o ut an effective
investigation capable of identifying and punishing the police officers
responsible. Article 3 of the Convention reads as follows:
“No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or
punishment.”
A. Admissibility
31 . The Court notes that this complaint is not manifestly ill -founded
within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention. It further notes
that it is not inadmissible on any other grounds. It must therefore be
declared admissible.

6 NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT
B. Merits
1. Alleged ill -treatment of the applicant by the police officer
(a) The parties ’ submissions
32 . The Government submitted that they could not state whether the
applicant had been subjected to ill -treatment by the police, as there was no
court decision in this respect . The Government further submitted that the
demonstration of 9 October 2005 ha d been un authorised and that the police
were entitled to have recourse to use of force to disperse an unlawful
demonstration. Accordingly, t he use of force by the police could not be
considered ill -treatment in the instant case.
33 . The applicant submitted that he had been beaten up by a group of
police officers led by A.V. , and t hat they had used excessive force against
him without any justification. In this connection he re lied on the medical
certificate of 2 6 October 2005, witnes s statements from two journalists , and
the photo of A.V. taken at the scene of the incident.
(b) The Court ’s assessment
34 . The Court reiterates that Article 3 enshrines one of the most
fundamental values of democratic societies. Even in the most difficult
circumstances, such as the fight against terrorism and organised crime, the
Convention prohibits in absolute terms torture and inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment. Unlike most of the substantive clauses of the
Convention and of Protocols Nos. 1 and 4, Article 3 makes no provision for
exceptions , and no derogation from it is permissible under Article 15 § 2
even in the event of a public emergency threat ening the life of the nation
(see Selmouni v. France [GC], no. 25803/94, § 95, ECHR 1999 -V, and
Assenov and Others v. Bulgaria , 28 October 1998, § 93 , Reports of
Judgments and Decisions 1998 -VIII ).
35 . Ill -treatment must attain a m inimum level of severity if it is to fall
within the scope of Article 3. Assessment of this minimum level depends on
all the circumstances of the case, such as the duration of the treatment, its
physical or mental effects and, in some cases, the sex, age a nd state of
health of the victim (see Ireland v. the United Kingdom , 18 January 1978,
§ 162 , Series A no. 25 ; Kudła v. Poland [GC], no. 30210/96, § 91, ECHR
2000 -XI; and Peers v. Greece , no. 28524/95, § 67, ECHR 2001 -III). The
Court has considered treatmen t to be “inhuman” because, inter alia , it was
premeditated, was applied for hours at a stretch and caused either actual
bodily injury or intense physical and mental suffering. It has deemed
treatment to be “degrading” because it was such as to arouse in th e victims
feelings of fear, anguish and inferiority capable of humiliating and debasing
them (see Kudła , cited above, § 92).

NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 7
36 . In assessing evidence, the Court adopts the standard of proof
“beyond reasonable doubt”. Such proof may follow from the coexistence of
sufficiently strong, clear and concordant inferences or of similar unrebutted
presumptions of fact (see, among many other authorities, Avşar v. Turkey ,
no. 25657/94, § 282, ECHR 2001 -VII (extracts)). The Court is sensitive to
the subsidiary nature of its role and recognises that it must be cautious in
taking on the role of a first -instance tribunal of fact, where this is not
rendered unavoidable by the circumstances of a particular case (see, for
example, McKerr v. the United Kingdom (dec.), no. 28883/95,
4 April 2000). Nevertheless, where allegations are made under Article 3 of
the Convention, the Court must apply a particul arly thorough scrutiny even
if certain domestic proceedings and investigations have already taken place
(see Muradova v. Azerbaijan , no. 22684/05, § 99 , 2 April 2009 , and
Avşar v. Turkey , § § 283 -84 , cited above).
37 . The Court cons iders that the applicant has been able to produce
sufficiently strong evidence supporting the fact that he was subjected to the
use of force by the police. In particular, the applicant produced a medical
certificate of 2 6 October 2005 , which stated that he had been admitted to
hospital on 9 October 2005 and had been diagnosed with closed
cranio -cerebral trauma, concussion and soft -tissue damage to the crown of
head . He also produced two photos of him self taken immediately after he
had been beaten. The fact that the applicant had been subjected to a beating
and had received serious injuries on 9 October 2005 was in itself never
placed in doubt by the investigati ng authorities, in particular in the Sabail
District Prosecutor ’s Office decision of 9 Marc h 2006 suspending the
investigation. As to the applicant ’s claim that the injuries had been inflicted
by police, it should be noted that he received those injuries during a police
operation forcibl y dispersing the demonstration of 9 October 2005. He
produc ed statements from two witnesses support ing his version of the
events , and a photo confirming A.V. ’s presence at the scene of the incident .
The evidence produced before the Court is sufficiently strong and consistent
to establish at least a presumption tha t the applicant was beaten with
truncheon s by police officers during the dispersal of the demonstration. In
the Court ’s opinion, neither the Government in their submissions, nor the
domestic authorities in their decisions, provided a convincing rebuttal of
this presumption.
38 . The Court will consequently examine whether the use of force
against the applicant was excessive. In this respect, the Court attaches
particular importance to the circumstances in which force was used (see
Gü zel Şahin and Others v. Turkey , no. 68263/01, § 50 , 21 December 2006 ,
and Timtik v. Turkey , no. 12503/06 , § 49 , 9 November 2010 ). When a
person is confronted by police or other agent s of the State, recourse to
physical force which has not been made strictly necessary by the person ’s
own conduct diminishes human dignity and is in principle an infringement

8 NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT
of the right set forth in Article 3 of the Convention (see Kop v. Turkey ,
no. 1272 8/05, § 27, 20 October 2009, and Timtik , cited above, § 47).
39 . The Court considers that it has not been shown that the recourse to
physical force against the applicant was made strictly necessary by his own
conduct. It is undispu ted that the applicant did not use violence against the
police or pose a threat to them. It has not been shown that there were any
other reasons justifying the use of force. Therefore, the Court cannot but
conclude that the use of force was unnecessary, ex cessive and unacceptable.
40 . The Court finds that the injuries sustained by the applicant establish
the existence of serious physical pain and suffering. The applicant suffered a
cranio -cerebral trauma and concussion , which require d long -term medical
treatment. The ill -treatment and its consequences must have also caused the
applicant considerable mental suffering , diminishing his human dignity. In
these circumstances, the Court considers that the ill -treatment complai ned of
was sufficiently serious to attain a minimum level of severity falling within
the scope of Article 3 and to be considered as inhuman and degrading
treatment.
41 . Accordingly, there has been a violation of Article 3 of the
Co nvention under its substantive limb.
2. Alleged failure to carry out an effective investigation
(a) The parties ’ submissions
42 . The Government submitted that the domestic authorities conducted
an effective investigation of the a pplicant ’s allegations of ill -treatment. In
particular, the Government noted that following the applicant ’s complaint
on 9 November 2005 the domestic authorities instituted criminal
proceedings. The investigator heard the applicant, two witnesses and A.V.
and took all appropriate actions to identify th ose who had beaten the
applicant. Moreover, the investigator ordere d a forensic examination for
28 January 2006, at which the applicant failed to appear .
43 . The applicant submitted th at the domestic authorities failed to carry
out an effective investigation of his allegations of ill -treatment. He noted
that the domestic authorities had ignored all the evidence that he had been
beaten by the police. He also submitted that he had not bee n informed of
any decision by the investigator of 28 January 2006 ordering a forensic
examination .
44 . The parties were also in disagreement as to wh ether the applicant
had been informed in timely fashion of the investigator ’s decision of
9 March 2006 suspending the inv estigation. The Government submitted a
copy of this decision , signed by the applicant with the remark that he
disagreed with it, and a copy of a letter from the investigator, dated
9 March 2006, notifying of this decision and addressed to the applicant
among others . The applicant maintained that he had not been informed of

NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 9
that decision until May 2006, and that the documents submitted by the
Government had failed to indicate the date when a copy of the decision had
been made available to the applicant ; nor had they shown that he had been
informed of it in timely fashion .
(b) The Court ’s assessment
45 . Where an individual raises an arguable claim that he or she has been
seriously ill -treated by police in breach of Article 3, that provision, read in
conjunction with the State ’s general duty under Article 1 of the Convention
to “secure to everyone within their jurisdiction the rights and freedoms
defined in … [the] Convention”, requires by im plication that there should be
an effective official investigation. This investigation should be capable of
leading to the identification and punishment of those responsible.
Otherwise, the general legal prohibition of torture and inhuman and
degrading tre atment and punishment would, despite its fundamental
importance, be ineffective in practice and it would be possible in some cases
for agents of the State to abuse the rights of those within their control with
virtual impunity (see Assenov and Others , cite d above , § 102, and Labita
v. Italy [GC], no. 26772/95, § 131, ECHR 2000 -IV ).
46 . For an investigation required by Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention
to be effective, those responsible for and carrying out the investigation must
be independent and impartial , in law and in practice . This means not only
that there must be no hierarchical or institutional connection with those
implicated in the events , but that there must also be independence in
practical terms (see Boicenco v. Mold ova , no. 41088/05, § 66 , 11 July 2006 ;
Kolevi v. Bulgaria , no. 1108/02, § 193, 5 November 2009; and Oleksiy
Mykhaylovych Zakharkin v. Ukraine , no. 1727/04 , § 66 , 2 4 June 2010 ).
47 . Furthermore, investigation s of serious allegations of ill -treatment
must be thorough. That means that the authorities must always make a
serious attempt to find out what happened and should not rely on hasty or
ill -founded conclusions to close their investigation or as the basis of their
decisions (see As senov and Others , cited above, § 103 et seq.). They must
take all reasonable steps available to them to secure the evidence concerning
the incident, including, inter alia, eyewitness statements and forensic
evidence (see Tanrıkulu v. Turkey [GC], no. 23763 /94, ECHR 1999 -IV,
§ 104 et seq., and Gül v. Turkey , no. 22676/93, § 89, 14 December 2000).
Any deficiency in the investigation which undermines its ability to establish
the cause of injuries or the identity of th ose responsible will risk falling foul
of t his standard.
48 . The notion of an effective remedy in respect of allegation s of
ill -treatment also entails effective access for the complainant to the
investigation procedure (see Assenov and Others , cited above, § 117). There
mus t be a n element of public scrutiny of the investigation or its results
sufficient to secure accountability in practice, maintain publi c confidence in

10 NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT
the authorities ’ adherence to the rule of law , and prevent any appearance of
collusion in or tolerance of unlawful acts (see Kolevi, cited above, § 194).
49 . The Court observes that following the applicant ’s claim of
ill -treatment , on 9 November 2005 the Sabail District Police Department
instituted criminal proceedings under Article 132 (beating) of the Criminal
Code. On 22 December 2005 the case was re -qualified under Article 163
(obstruction of the lawful professional activity of journalists) of the
Criminal Code and transferred to the Sabail District Prosecutor ’s Office.
However, t he applicant ’s complaint was not handled with sufficient
diligence, as no relevant procedural steps were taken until 12 January 2006,
the date the applicant was question ed , more than three months after the
incident .
50 . Likewise, e ven assuming that, as the Government claimed, the
investigator ordered a forensic examination on 28 January 2006, this was
also done belatedly, two months and seventeen days after the beginning of
the criminal inquiry and three months and seventeen days af ter the incident.
In this connection, the Court also notes that, in any event, the Government
did not submit a copy of the investigator ’s decision requiring a forensic
examination, nor did they produce any documentary evidence that the
applicant had actual ly been informed of the investigator ’s decision requiring
a forensic examination, even assuming that there was such a decision.
51 . In this connection, h aving regard to the material in its possession and
the parties ’ submissions, t he Court notes that there are serious doubts that
the applicant had been given effective access to the investigation procedure
at all times and that he had been informed of all the procedural steps in a
timely manner.
52 . Having noted the above, the Court will now turn to what it considers
the most problematic aspect of the investigation conducted in the present
case. The Court has repeatedly stressed that the procedural obligation under
Articles 2 and 3 requires an investi gation to be independent and impartial ,
both in law and in practice (see paragraph 46 above). The Court notes that
the Sabail District Prosecutor ’s Office, which was formally an independent
investigating authority and which conducted the investigation in t he present
case , requested the Sabail District Police Department to carry out an inquiry
with the aim of identifying those who had allegedly ill -treated the applicant.
As such, the investigating authority delegated a major and essential part of
the investi gation – identification of the perpetrators of the alleged
ill -treatment – to the same authority whose agents had allegedly committed
the offence. In this respect, the Court finds it of no real significance that,
while the alleged perpetrators were officer s of the Riot Police Regiment of
the Baku Police Department , it was another police department which was
requested to carry out the investigation . What is important is that the
investigation of alleged misconduct potentially engaging the responsibility
of a public authority and its officers was carried out by those agents ’

NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 11
colleagues , employed by the same public authority. In the Court ’s view, in
such circumstances an investigation by the police force of an alleg ation of
misconduct by its own officers could not be independent in the present case
(compare, mutatis mutandis , Ramsahai and Others v. the Netherlands [GC],
no. 52391/99, § 295 -96 , ECHR 2007 -II; Aktaş v. Turkey , no. 24351/94,
§ 301 , ECHR 2003 -V (extracts) ; and McKerr , § 128 , cited above ).
53 . The Sabail District Police Department ’s inquiry yielded no results
and was “unable” to identify the police officers in question. In this
connection the Court notes that the material in the case file does not contain
any evidenc e such as documents relating to the actual steps taken by the
police investigators .
54 . The Sabail District Prosecutor ’s Office investigator proceeded to
rely on the Sabail District Police Department ’s “no result” report , and
merely suspended the proceedings without taking any further action . In the
Court ’s view, the investigating authority (the Sabail District Prosecutor ’s
Office) was fully competent to take , and should have been entirely capable
of taking , independent, tangib le and effective investigative measures aimed
at identifying the culprits , such as obtaining a list of the members of the
Riot Police Regiment engaged in the dispersal operation, questioning all the
police officers involved, identifying and questioning oth er witnesses ( those
on the demonstration, bystanders, and so on), holding face -to-face
confrontations of witnesses where necessary, attempting to reconstruct the
chronology of the events, and so on. None of th is was done by the
investigator independently . Nor did the investigati ng authorities, the
domestic courts, or the Government provide any plausible explanation for
the failure to do so.
55 . The applicant was also deprived of the opportunity to effectively
seek damages in civil proceedings, as the civil courts refuse d to admit his
civil claim, citing as a reason his inability to name specific police officers as
defendants. The Court notes that in practice this requirement amounted to an
insurmountable obstacle for the applicant, since the identification of those
police officers was the task of the criminal investigation, which in the
present case was ineffective and lack ed independence.
56 . The foregoing considerations are sufficient to enable the Court to
conclude that the investigation of the applicant ’s claim of ill -treatment fell
short, for the reasons noted above, of the requirements of Article 3 of the
Convention. T here has accordingly been a violation of Article 3 of the
Convention under its procedur al limb .
II. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 10 OF THE CONVENTION
57 . Relying on Articles 10 and 11 of the Convention, the applicant
complained that he had been ill -treated by police with the aim of preventing

12 NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT
him from carrying out h is journalistic activity and that his right to freedom
of peaceful assembly had been violated.
58 . The Court notes that, as it appears from the applicant ’s own
submissions, he was not a participant of the unauthorised demonstration , but
was present there to report on it in his capacity of a journalist. In such
circumstances, the Court considers that the complaint should be examined
under Article 10 only, as this provision is lex specialis in so far as the
circumstances of the present case are concerned. Article 10 of the
Convention provides:
“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 penalties 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 prev ention 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 jud iciary.”
A. Admissibility
59 . The Government submitted that the applicant had failed to exhaust
domestic remedies. In particular, the applicant ’s civil complaint was
rejected by the domestic courts for non -compliance with the proc edural
requirements relating to lodging a lawsuit. The Government argued that the
applicant could have remedied the procedural shortcomings found by the
domestic courts in his civil complaint and re -submitted it to the court, but he
had failed to do so.
60 . The applicant submitted that his civil claim had been lodged
properly, that he had correctly indicated the Ministry of Internal Affairs as
the defendant, and that he had lodged a correct number of copies of the
claim enclosed tog ether with all the relevant documents in his possession.
61 . The Court reiterates that the rule of exhaustion of domestic remedies
referred to in Article 35 § 1 of the Convention obliges applicants to use first
the remedies that ar e normally available and sufficient in the domestic legal
system to enable them to obtain redress for the breaches alleged. The
existence of the remedies must be sufficiently certain, in practice as well as
in theory, failing which they will lack the requi site accessibility and
effectiveness. Article 35 § 1 also requires that the complaints intended to be
brought subsequently before the Court should have been made to the
appropriate domestic body, at least in substance and in compliance with the

NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 13
formal requ irements laid down in domestic law, but not that recourse should
be had to remedies which are inadequate or ineffective (see Akdivar and
Others v. Turkey , 16 September 1996, §§ 65 -67 , Reports of Judgments and
Decisions 1996 -IV ).
62 . The Court notes that the applicant lodged a civil claim complaining,
inter alia , of a violation of his rights under Article 10 of the Convention
(see § 22 above and , a contrario , Rizvanov v. Azerbaijan , no. 31805/06 ,
§ 73, 17 April 2012) . This claim was not admitted for a number of formal
reasons, such as the applicant ’s alleged failure to submit a copy of a forensic
report and to identify specific individuals as defendants. However, the Court
reiterates that, in the circumstances of the p resent case, it was practically
impossible for the applicant to comply with these requirements owing to the
ineffectiveness of the criminal investigation in procuring forensic evidence
and identifying the police officers responsible for the applicant ’s bea ting.
As such, those requirements relied on by the domestic courts constituted, in
essence, an insurmountable obstacle for examination of the merits of the
applicant ’s complaint in the civil proceedings. In such circumstances, the
Court considers that the applicant has done all what could have been
expected of him to exhaust domestic remedies.
63 . For these reasons, the Court rejects the Government ’s objection. It
further notes that this complaint is not manifestly ill -founded withi n the
meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention and is not inadmissible on
any other grounds. It must therefore be declared admissible.
B. Merits
64 . The Government submitted that the applicant was not a participant
of the d emonstration, but that he was “observing” it. They noted that , during
the demonstration, the applicant had not been wearing a special blue vest
identifying him as a journalist, which wo uld have enabled the
law -enforcement authorities to distinguish him fro m demonstration
participants. The Government further submitted that the demonstration had
been unlawful and that the police had been entitled to have recourse to
appropriate use of force to disperse the demonstration and detain persons
who failed to comply with lawful police orders. Therefore , the Government
noted that “the applicant ’s alleged beating could have taken place in [the] circumstances” where police officers , in the absence of a blue vest, had
difficulty in distinguishing the applicant from the d emonstration
participants, against whom they were entitled to use force. The police had
no intention to interfere with the applicant ’s journalistic activity or prevent
him from reporting on the demonstration.
65 . The applicant submitted that, although he had not been wearing a
blue vest, he was wearing a badge on his chest clearly identifying him as a
journalist. He noted that witnesses had confirmed this fact. Moreover, while

14 NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT
he was being beaten by the police, he repeatedly told them that he was a
journalist. Lastly, the applicant argued that, contrary to the Government ’s
submissions, the use of force by the police at the demonstration was in any
event unlawful and unjustified.
66 . The C ourt has repeatedly stressed the pre -eminent role of the press
in a democratic State governed by the rule of law (see the Castells v. Spain ,
23 April 1992, § 43 , Series A no. 236 ; Thorgeir Thorgeirson v. Iceland ,
25 June 1992, § 63 , Series A no. 239 ; Goodw in v. the United Kingdom ,
27 March 1996, § 39 , Reports 1996 -II; Jersild v. Denmark , 23 September
1994, § 31 , Series A no. 298 ; and Fatullayev v. Azerbaijan , no. 40984/07 ,
§ 88 , 22 April 2010 ). It is incumbent on the press to impart information and
ideas on matters of public interest. Not only does it have the task of
imparting such information and ideas: the public also has a right to receive
them. This undoubtedly includes, like in the present case, reporting on
oppositio n gatherings and demonstrations which is essential for the
development of any democratic society. Were it otherwise, the press would
be unable to play its vital role of “public watchdog” (see , among other
authorities, Observer and Guardian v. the United Ki ngdom ,
26 November 1991, § 59 , Series A no. 216 , and The Sunday Times v. the
United Kingdom (no. 2) , 26 November 1991, § 50 , Series A no. 217 ).
67 . It is undisputed that the applicant was present at the place of
demonstration to re port on the event; that is, he was doing his journalistic
work. As established above, the applicant was subjected to use of force in
breach of Article 3 of the Convention, despite not having conducted himself
in a manner that would make use of force necess ary. A lthough the applicant
was not wearing a special vest, he was wearing a journalist ’s badge on his
chest and also specifically told the police officers that he was a journalist.
Thus, the Court cannot accept the Government ’s argument that police
office rs had been unable to determine that the applicant was a journalist.
68 . The Court notes that public measures preventing journalists from
doing their work may raise issues under Article 10 (see, mutatis mutandis ,
Gsell v. Switzerland , no. 12675/05 , § 49 et seq. , 8 October 2009 ). Turning
to the present case , the Court notes that it cannot be disputed that the
physical ill -treatment by State agents of journalist s while the latter are
per form ing their professional duties serio usly hampers the ir exercise of the
right to receive and impart information. In this regard the Court notes the
Government ’s argument that there was no actual intention to interfere with
the applicant ’s journalistic activity as such. However, irrespective of
whether there was such intention in the present case , what matters is that the
journalist was subjected to the unnecessary and excessive use of force ,
amounting to ill -treatment under Article 3 of the Convention, despite having
mad e clear efforts to identify himself as a journalist who was simply doing
his work and observing the event . Accordingly, the Court considers that

NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 15
there has been an interference with the applicant ’s rights under Article 10 of
the Convention.
69 . Furthermore, the Court finds that this interference was not justified
under paragraph 2 of Article 10 . It was not shown convincingly by the
Government that it was either lawful or pursued any legitimate aim. In any
event, it is clear that such interference as in the present case could not be
considered as “necessary in a democratic society”.
70 . There has accordingly been a violation of Article 10 of the
Convention.
III. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 6 OF THE CONVENTION
71 . The applicant complained that the domestic courts ’ refusal to admit
his civil action had been wrongly substantiated and breached his right of
access to court .
72 . The relevant part of Article 6 of the Convention reads as follows:
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations … everyone is entitled to a
fair … hearing … by [a] … tribunal …”
73 . Having regard to the finding of a violatio n of the procedural as pect
of Article 3 (and, in particular, the findings in paragraph 55 above), and
noting that the present complaint concerns essentially the same matters , the
Court considers that it is not necessary to examine whether this case raises
an issue Article 6 of the Convention. Therefore, the Court rejects this part of
the application pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 (a) and 4 of the Convention.
IV. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION
74 . 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
partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to
the injured party.”
A. Damage
1. Pecuniary damage
75 . The applicant claimed 800 euros (EUR) in compensation for
pecuniary damage for the cost of his medical treatment , and EUR 16,500 in
compensation for pecuniary damage for lost ea rnings. He also claimed EUR
10,000 compensation for pecuniary damage for his treatment abroad.

16 NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT
76 . The Government contested the claim , noting that the applicant had
failed to substantiate his allegation.
77 . The Court points out that under Rule 60 of the Rules of the Court
any claim for just satisfaction must be itemised and submitted in writing ,
together with the relevant supporting documents or receipts , failing which
the Court may reject the claim in whol e or in part.
78 . In the present case, even assuming that there is a causal link between
the damage claimed and the violations found, the Court observes that the
applicant did not submit any documentary evidence supporting this cla im.
In particular, he did not submit any receipts, prescriptions or any other
documents certifying his expenses for medical treatment , or an employment
contract or other documents certifying his income.
79 . For the above reasons, the Court rejects the applicant ’s claims in
respect of pecuniary damage.
2. Non -pecuniary damage
80 . The applicant claimed EUR 10,000 in compensation for
non -pecuniary damage.
81 . The Government contested the amount claimed as unsubstantiated
and excessive.
82 . The Court considers that the applicant has suffered non -pecuniary
damage which cannot be compensated for solely by the finding of violations
and that compensation should thus be awarded. Making its assessment on an
equitable basis, as required by Article 41 of the Convention, the Court
awards the applicant the sum of EUR 10,000 under this head, plus any tax
that may be chargeable on this amount.
B. Costs and expenses
83 . The applicant claimed EUR 1,000 for cost s and expenses incurred
before the domestic courts in the criminal proceedings and EUR 1,600 for
the civil proceedings . He also claimed EUR 2,700 for costs and expenses
incurred before the Court. In support of his claim, he submitted several
contracts for legal services rendered in the proceedings before the domestic
courts and the Court. According to these contracts, the amounts due were to
be paid in the event that the Court found a viol ation of the applicant ’s rights.
The applicant also claimed EUR 1 ,750 for translation expenses and
EUR 20 0 for postal expenses.
84 . The Government considered that the claim was unsubstantiated and
excessive. In particular, the Government submitted that the applicant had
failed to produce all the necessary documents in support of his claims and
that the costs and expenses had not actually been incurr ed, because the
amount claimed had not yet been paid by the applicant.

NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT 17
85 . 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 b een actually and necessarily incurred and are reasonable as
to quantum. Having regard to the documents in its possession and the above
criteria, the Court considers it reasonable to award the sum of EUR 3,000
covering costs under all heads.
C. Default int erest
86 . The Court considers it appropriate that the default 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 U NANIMOUSLY
1. Declares the complaints under Articles 3 and 10 of the Convention
admissible and the remainder of the application inadmissible ;

2. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention as
regards the ill -treatment by the police ;

3. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention as
regards the lack of effective investigation of the applicant ’s allegations
of ill -treatment ;

4. Holds that there has been a violatio n of Article 10 of the Convention;

5. Holds
(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicant , within three months
from the date on which the judgment becomes final in accordance with
Article 44 § 2 of the Convention, the following amounts, to be co nverted
into Azerbaijani manats at the rate applicable at the date of settlement:
(i) EUR 10,000 (ten thousand euros ), plus any tax that may be
chargeable, in respect of non -pecuniary damage;
(ii) EUR 3,000 (three thousand euros), plus any tax that may be
chargeable to the applicant , in respect of costs and expenses;
(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 marginal len ding rate of the European Central Bank
during the default period plus three percentage poin ts;

18 NAJAFLI v. AZERBAIJAN JUDGMENT
6. Dismisses the remainder of the applicant ’s claim for just satisfaction.
Done in English, and notified in writing on 2 October 2012 , pursuant to
Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.
Søren Nielsen Nina Vajić
Registrar President

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