On April 16, 2018, the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan upheld a lower court decision that awarded damages to Irina Zakharchenko and Valida Jabrayilova for their unjust 11-month imprisonment. Earlier, in February 2017, the Supreme Court had acquitted both women of the criminal charge of distributing religious literature without State permission. However, the Supreme Court left the issue of compensation in the hands of the civil courts.

After being exonerated of all charges, Ms. Zakharchenko and Ms. Jabrayilova, who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, sought compensation through the civil courts for their mistreatment. In August 2017, a district court awarded damages to them, but the Ministry of Finance appealed the decision. In November 2017, an appellate court upheld the district court ruling. The Ministry again contested and filed a Cassation Complaint with the Supreme Court in February 2018. The Supreme Court denied the Ministry’s appeal and thus upheld the ruling, which had granted compensation to both women.

Beyond providing a measure of compensation, the Supreme Court recognized the harm that Ms. Zakharchenko and Ms. Jabrayilova had experienced at the hands of officials, who had exceeded their authority and violated the rights of these innocent women.