LL.M. Faculty Members Achieve a Landmark Win Against Azerbaijan
On May 26, 2020, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) rendered a landmark judgment on the case of Minasyan and Makuchyan v. Azerbaijan and Hungary, pertaining to the legality of the transfer of Ramil Safarov from Hungary to Azerbaijan and his subsequent pardon and glorification in Azerbaijan. The case brief was initiated and handled primarily by Siranush Sahakyan and Levon Gevorgyan, adjunct lecturers at the American University of Armenia (AUA) Master of Laws (LL.M.) Program.
The judgment finds the Republic of Azerbaijan to be in breach of the procedural limb of Article 2 (right to life) and in breach of Article 14 (discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights. This is the first finding by any international judicial institution confirming the institutionalized policy of ethnic discrimination in Azerbaijan, which has manifested itself by the immediate release, as well as public glorification and praise of the perpetrator of the heinous crime. The ECHR further found that by pardoning Ramil Safarov “Azerbaijan in effect granted R.S. impunity for the crimes committed against his Armenian victims. This is not compatible with Azerbaijan’s obligation under Article 2 to effectively deter the commission of offences against the lives of individuals.”
Though the ECHR did not agree with the contention that by its actions Azerbaijan has in fact acknowledged and accepted the acts of Safarov as its own, resulting in the attribution of such acts to the state, Sahakyan and Gevorgyan say that there are strong factual and legal grounds for bringing the matter before the Grand Chamber of the ECHR.
“Despite the fact that there is no such precedent in the practice of ECHR, the judgments of the International Court of Justice and other courts and tribunals speak strongly in favor of such attribution, which we are adamant to seek further before the Grand Chamber,” say the representatives.
In a strong dissenting opinion, Judge Pinto De Albuquerque, agrees with the contention of attribution raised by the Applicants. “In view of the extremely important and novel nature of the legal issues at stake in the present case and the high-profile nature of the facts, the pardoning of an ‘extremely cruel hate crime,’ and of the people involved in them, namely the Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of Hungary and the President, Minister of Defence and Minister of Justice of Azerbaijan, and considering that the case ‘raises questions of a general character affecting the observance of the Convention,’ I cannot but expect that this tragic case will be submitted to further reflection by the Grand Chamber,” Judge Pinto De Albuquerque concludes.
Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.