View Adopted: 2022.07.19
The author of the communication is a national of the Russian Federation and Israel. He is a well-known blogger who travelled to Nagorno-Karabakh in 2012, where he criticized the policies of Azerbaijan and called for independence of the disputed region from Azerbaijan. On an unspecified date, criminal proceedings were instituted against him for illegally visiting Nagorno-Karabakh and an extradition request was issued. On this basis, the author was arrested and Belarusian authorities placed him in detention. The author challenged his detention pending extradition, but his complaints and subsequent appeals were rejected. He claims the extradition would violate his rights under articles 7 (torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment) and 14 (equality before courts) of the Covenant. He claims he would face a real risk of torture if extradited and that the absence of a counsel during his questioning, the failure of the State party to disclose his extradition order and the lack of summons to court hearings violated his fair trial guarantees.
With regard to the issue of exhaustion of domestic remedies, since the State party had not contested it, the Committee observed that the author had exhausted all domestic remedies and therefore proceeded with examining the admissibility of the author’s claims. It noted that since the author was an alien and challenged extradition proceedings, the procedural violations which he had claimed could only be determined under article 13 and not under article 14. As the author did not invoke article 13, this part of the communication was held inadmissible ratione materiae. However, the Committee considered the remaining article 7 claims admissible as the author had sufficiently substantiated them.
The Committee noted it is for organs of State parties to review and evaluate facts and evidence to determine whether a real risk of irreparable harm existed in cases of extradition, unless the Committee found that the evaluation was clearly arbitrary or amounted to a denial of justice. It noted the author’s claim that he would face a real risk of torture or ill-treatment in Azerbaijan due to his journalistic activities, criticism of the human rights violations occurring there and his statements supporting Nagorno-Karabakh and that he had been accused of crossing into its territory without the necessary documents. Despite these claims being submitted to the State party and despite information suggesting that journalists and others such as bloggers were prosecuted in Azerbaijan and prone to torture and ill-treatment available in the public domain, the State party proceeded with his extradition. The Committee concluded that the assessment of the State party rejecting the author’s claim of a real risk upon extradition was clearly arbitrary, thereby being violative of article 7.
The State Party, in furtherance of its obligation to provide the author with an effective remedy, is obligated, inter alia:
Deadline: January 19, 2023
By: Smrithi Ramakrishnan