Christoph Strässer, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, issued the following statement today (13 November) on Azerbaijani human rights activist Arif Yunusov’s release from prison into house arrest:
The decision yesterday by a court of appeal in Baku to release Arif Yunusov from prison until the conclusion of appeal proceedings owing to his poor state of health is an important humanitarian gesture and a first step in the right direction. I hope that further steps will soon follow.
This especially applies to Yunusov’s wife Leyla, who is likewise serving a prison sentence. Her state of health is also a cause for great concern and she urgently needs to have an operation. The Federal Government will continue to carefully follow the court proceedings against the Yunus couple as well as the trials of other human rights defenders in prison in Azerbaijan.
An appeal court in Baku decreed yesterday that the Azerbaijani human rights activist Arif Yunusov be released from prison and serve the remainder of his sentence under house arrest. The reason stated for this was Yunusov’s poor state of health. Along with other prominent human rights activists, Leyla Yunus and Arif Yunusov were arrested at the end of July 2014 on charges of espionage, tax evasion and infringements of the country’s legislation on NGOs. On 13 August 2015, they were sentenced to eight‑and‑a‑half and seven years in prison respectively by a trial court in Baku.
Leyla Yunus, Director of the Institute for Peace and Democracy, and her husband Arif Yunusov have campaigned with great commitment for improved human rights, more democracy and an enhanced dialogue, both internally and with regard to Armenia.