CASE OF SHENTURK AND OTHERS v. AZERBAIJAN (Applications nos. 41326/17 and other applications – see appended list)

Shenturk and others v. Azerbaijan: Turkish nationals extra-legal transfers from Azerbaijan to Turkey violated their rights under ECHR

On 10 March 2022, the ECtHR published its judgment for the case of Shenturk and Others v. Azerbaijan. The case concerns four Turkish nationals who moved to Azerbaijan where they worked in private schools and companies affiliated with the Gülen movement. Their asylum requests in Azerbaijan were ignored and they were expelled to Turkey, where they were arrested and taken into custody for alleged involvement in the so-called Fetullahist Terrorist Organisation / Parallel State Structure. The applicants complained that their detention and subsequent removal from Azerbaijan to Turkey were in breach of Articles 3, 5 and 13 ECHR and Article 1 of Protocol No. 7 to the Convention in the case of the first applicant.
Firstly, the Court assessed the alleged violation of Article 5(1) and noted that the whole period of detention of the first applicant and the various periods of detention of the second, third and fourth applicants were not based on a formal decision authorising their detention as required by the domestic law and were accordingly unlawful within the meaning of Article 5(1). Moreover, the Court found that the applicants' removal to Turkey constituted a breach of the formal extradition proceedings and of the relevant international safeguards.
In its analysis of the complained violation of Article 3, the Court contended that the national authorities had at no time examined the applicants' fears of ill-treatment if returned to Turkey and that the decision to remove them from Azerbaijan based on the cancellation of the passport or residence permits was only a pretext to conduct an "extradition in disguise". The Court thus considered that the applicants were denied effective guarantees of protection against arbitrary refoulement and that the respondent State had not complied with its procedural obligation under Article 3 by failing to assess the risks of the applicants being subjected to treatment contrary to that provision. Based on the above, the Court concluded that there had been a violation of Article 3.
Lastly, as regards the complaints under Articles 5(4), 13 and Article 1 of Protocol No. 7, the Court decided that it was not necessary to give a separate ruling and referred to its findings under Articles 5(1) and 3.

ELENA Weekly Legal Update - 11 March 2022


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