FEBRUARY 10, 2017
On February 8, 2017, the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan acquitted Irina Zakharchenko and Valida Jabrayilova of their convictions for distributing religious literature without State permission. Judge Hafiz Nasibov, of the Criminal Board of the Supreme Court, announced that the Court had found no crime in the actions of the two Witness women and had annulled the decisions of the lower courts.
During the hearing, lawyers for Ms. Zakharchenko and Ms. Jabrayilova highlighted the government’s breach of fundamental human rights in the unwarranted and abusive treatment of the two Witness women. The Court allowed both women to relate what they had endured through more than 11 months of pretrial detention and how it had affected them.
International human rights lawyer Jason Wise commented: “We are very pleased that the Criminal Board of the Supreme Court canceled the convictions. For Jehovah’s Witnesses in Azerbaijan, it is an unprecedented reversal of lower court decisions. We hope the Baku Sabail District Court will also recognize the right to compensation for these two women.”