As the trial of prominent human rights defender Leyla Yunus and her husband Arif Yunus starts in Azerbaijan next week, Transparency International, the global anti-corruption movement, calls for the proceedings to be fair and transparent.
“There are concerns that the trial of Leyla Yunus is related to her work. Considering the medical conditions of both Yunus and her husband, they should not be held in custody as the proceedings unfold. The Azerbaijan courts must ensure a fair trial. The authorities must respect the rights of citizens to speak out against abuses of power,” said Elena Panfilova, vice-chair of Transparency International.
Leyla Yunus was arrested on 30 July 2014 for alleged tax evasion, illegal entrepreneurial activities and other economic crimes, as well as treason. She faces years in prison if convicted on all charges.
Yunus is the director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy, which campaigns on human rights issues, violence against women and politically motivated prosecutions. Her husband Arif Yunus was arrested on 5 August when he delivered a food parcel to his wife in prison.
Both have serious health problems. Leyla Yunus suffers from diabetes and requires special food, medication and medical attention that authorities are reportedly denying her in jail.
There has been widespread condemnation of the Yunus’ arrest. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution calling for the Yunus’ immediate release. The Human Rights Councils issued a statement signed by 25 member countries on Azerbaijan calling for the release of the Yunus’ and other activists. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are also calling for their release.
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