The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) today announced a decision on the complaint of an activist of the Nida youth movement Ilkin Rustamzadeh, who is serving a prison sentence in Azerbaijan.
The complaint concerns his arrest and pretrial detention in 2013 for the publication of a dance video on the Internet, which the investigation interpreted as immoral.
In 2013, a civil society activist, Rustamzadeh, took an active part in demonstrations in Baku criticizing the government for the deaths of soldiers in the army.
On March 1, 2013 a group of young people shot a video where they performed the dance Harlem Shake. The video was later uploaded to YouTube, and it shows that seven people are dancing, and one of them is performing “sexual movements near a bronze statue.”
Rustamzadeh was arrested in May 2013 on charges of hooliganism, “obvious disrespect for society”, and “disturbance of public order”.
The prosecutor’s office imprisoned him for the period of the investigation, explaining that there was a “danger of his escaping and re-committing a crime”.
Despite repeated appeals, the courts extended the term of his detention pending trial in May 2014, when he was sentenced to 8 years together with other members of the Nida movement accused of organizing riots.
Referring to Article 5, Rustamzadeh complained of his arrest without reasonable suspicion of committing a crime.
The ECHR recognized the violation of his rights under Article 5.1 (the right to liberty and security) and decided he should be paid compensation of 20 thousand euros and 2.5 thousand euros for legal expenses.
Rustamzadeh is recognized a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International.