Legal Case of the Week: Human Rights Defender Server Mustafayev sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment

Week-ending 25 September 2020

On 23 September 2020 Front Line Defenders issued a statement condemning the conviction on 16 September 2020 of human rights defender Server Mustafayev, sentenced to 14 years in a strict regime penal colony on charges of ‘membership of a terrorist organisation’ and ‘planning to violently seize state power.’ Memorial Human Rights Centre has recognised Server Mustafayev as a political prisoner and Amnesty International has recognised him as a prisoner of conscience. Rights in Russia reported his trial and conviction here and on one of the laws used to convict him here.

Front Line Defenders stated in part:

Server Mustafayev is a Crimean Tatar human rights defender and the coordinator of Crimean Solidarity, a civil society initiative created after the annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation. Crimean Solidarity, created by the relatives and lawyers of victims of politically motivated persecution in the region, has expanded quickly. It monitors human rights violations, observes trials, and provides legal and financial aid to families of arrested individuals. Crimean Solidarity focuses mainly on providing support to the Crimean Tatar community, which has been a particular target of the Russian authorities. […] Front Line Defenders is deeply concerned by the Southern District Military Court’s decision to sentence human rights defender Server Mustafayev to fourteen years in a strict-regime correctional colony. Front Line Defenders believes that the conviction of Server Mustafayev constitutes a deliberate misuse of anti-terrorist legislation aimed at the prosecution and deterrence of human rights defenders’ work in Crimea. Front Line Defenders reiterates its call to the Russian authorities to quash Server Mustafayev’s conviction and facilitate his immediately release.

This week Human Rights Watch reported on the trial of Server Mustafayev and six other Crimean Tatars as follows:

Last week, a Russian military court sentenced seven Crimean Tatars to prison terms ranging from 13 to 19 years. It is part of a pattern of politically motivated prosecutions that has been happening in Russia-occupied Crimea for the past six years. The seven men were convicted of organizing or participating in a “terrorist organization.” One man was acquitted. In a system based on rule of law and justice, none would even have been prosecuted. The men are activists with Crimean Solidarity which was established in 2016 to support Crimean Tatars arrested or jailed on politically motivated grounds. It helped organize legal support for detainees, financial and social support for their families, and live-streamed court proceedings and police searches. Since 2017, authorities have jailed the group’s members and raided their homes.

Human Rights in Ukraine also reported on the trial this week:

The Russian-controlled police in occupied Crimea have initiated administrative proceedings against Venera Mustafayeva after she stood on the street alone, with a placard reading “Conversations in a mosque are not a crime – bring back my son”.  Server Mustafayev and six other civic journalists and activists were sentenced the following day to horrific terms of imprisonment, without any crime and on the basis of flawed claims about illicitly taped, and entirely innocuous, conversations in a mosque.

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