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resul ceferovOn 2 August it came to Civil Rights Defenders attention that the Azeri journalist, human rights defender and Natalia Project bearer Rasul Jafarov had been arrested in Baku. He will be held in a pre-trial detention for up to three months. The charges against him are tax evasion, illegal commercial activity and abuse of authority. “We are shocked and dismayed at what seems to be an attack on Rasul Jafarov for his activities as a human rights defender. Civil Rights Defenders call on the authorities in Azerbaijan to provide a safe environment for all human rights defenders that enables them to perform their important work”, says Robert Hårdh, Executive Director at Civil Rights Defenders.
At this early stage it appears that the charges are related to Rasul Jafarov’s activities as chairman and founder of the Human Rights Club (HRC), an NGO which the Azerbaijan government has continually prevented from registering since its establishment in 2010 — a tactic that seems intended to hinder their work and silence their opposition to human rights abuses.
The arrest of Rasul Jafarov comes on the heels of the arrest earlier this week of fellow Azeri human rights defender Leyla Yunus. In May, Anar Mammadli, founder of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Center (EMDS), was sentenced to five years in prison on the same charges Rasul Jafarov is now being held on.
A lawyer Khalid Bagirov met August 4 in Baku prison with human rights activist Rasul Jafarov, arrested on August 2. According to the lawyer, Rasul Jafarov  denies all the charges against him, considering them politically motivated.  He is charged under Articles 192 (illegal business), 213 (tax evasion) and 308 (abuse of power) of the Criminal Code.  The lawyer also called the charges unfounded.
Rasul Jafarov did not have any NGO registered by the  government, he participated in various projects as a coordinator, but it is not the position. Lacking positions  Jafarov could not abuse of office, the lawyer said. He also considers inappropriate charges of “illegal business” because Jafarov  was not engaged in commercial activities for profit. With regard to tax evasion, the investigation  asserts that Jafarov has not paid taxes on 6000 income from AZN 150 over five years of financial activity.
However Jafarov submitted all requested documents only on  July 31, and consequently could not physically so quickly verify these documents and establish the fact of tax evasion.
The lawyer also pointed to the invalidity of the arrest under the pretext of tax evasion. “On July 31,  August 1 and 2 Jafarov  carefully attended prosecutor. How can   they speak about  evasion investigation?
The investigator explained the arrest  by the fact that Jafarov has good relations “with foreign organizations, and he can leave the country. But how can he leave the country  if there is a  ban on his departure? Another argument was that the investigator that, once free, Jafarov can “continue criminal acts.” However, getting grants and implementation of projects is not a criminal activity,” said Bagirov, adding that the decision to arrest will be appealed. (Contact.az)

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Prosecutor General’s Office has issued a statement on the arrest of head of the Human Rights Club, human rights activist Rasul Jafarov. The Office’s press service told APA that Prosecutor General’s Office launched criminal case under the Criminal Code’s articles # 308.1 and 313 after receiving materials from the Ministry of Justice regarding the irregularities revealed in the activities of branches and representative offices of a number of Azerbaijani and international non-governmental organizations.
Numerous interrogations, inspection, search, seizure and other investigative procedures have been carried out on the fact. As Financial Monitoring Service under the Central Bank informed about suspicious banking transactions by co-founder and chairman of Human Rights Club, Jafarov Rasul Aghahasan, the Union’s activity was inspected by the Ministries of Finance and Taxes, experts of the Council of State Support to Non-Governmental Organizations.

Rasul Jafarov abused his power by carrying out illegal business activities as he hadn’t registered grant agreements signed with the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and other donor organizations in relevant executive authorities since October 2010 and illegally received AZN 147.000 and avoided paying AZN 6.162 taxes that was to be paid to the state budget.
Rasul Jafarov was sentenced to pre-trial detention as there are reasonable grounds that he committed crimes under articles #192.2.2, 213.1 and 308.2 of the Criminal Code.
The Investigation Department for Grave Crimes under the Prosecutor General’s Office is investigating the case. (APA)