Azerbaijan's Interior Ministry has refuted the claim that photographs of torture spread on social media were taken in Azerbaijan.
Torture and other forms of ill-treatment in police custody and pre-trial detention centers have become typical in the Azerbaijani criminal justice system according to human rights watchdog organizations. Authorities use these methods to obtain forced confessions as well as other purposes, which is concerning across civil society in the country.
The spread of photographs on social media in recent days have brought the issue back to the forefront. People are seen lying naked and with their hands and feet hanging from iron bars.
The Interior Ministry said the photos were taken in another country, this seems unlikely, however, as in one of the photographs the Azerbaijani flag and the coat of arms of the Azerbaijani Interior Ministry are seen.
“It is possible to place the Azerbaijani flag anywhere in the world and take a picture of it”, the ministry said, addressing the disbelief.
Elchin Gasimov, deputy chairman of the Muslim Union Movement, said in an interview with Radio Liberty's Azerbaijani Service that he was tortured for days at the Sabunchu District Police Department when he was arrested in 2015.
“They gave shocked us with an electroshock device. It was such a situation where a person's strength was only enough to cover his face with handcuffs,” Gasimov was cited as saying.
According to Gasimov, he suffered serious health problems after being tortured. He said that although he was given food during his detention at the Main Department for Combating Organized Crime, he could not eat due to pain and stress. As a result, his gastrointestinal tract wdamaged. leader of the Movement for Muslim Unity, and his deputy Abbas Huseynov were arrested. Critics called the crackdown an attempt to silence opposition.
“We were tortured there for fourteen days, both physically and mentally” Gasimov added.
According to Gasimov, he suffered serious health problems after being tortured. He said that although he was given food during his detention at the Main Department for Combating Organized Crime, he could not eat due to pain and stress. As a result, his gastrointestinal tract was damaged.
Gasimov was released under the presidential pardon decree in March 2019. Although he appealed to the judicial system, his claims were not recognized. He has appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.
According to international and local human rights organizations, fundamental rights are not guaranteed in Azerbaijan. The government vehemently rejects these criticisms, calling them biased.
The U.S. State Department stated in its annual report that torture against detainees and prisoners continued in Azerbaijani custody. Electroshock was widely used as a means of torture, and the perpetrators went unpunished, the report said.