ECtHR - Emin Huseynov v. Azerbaijan

The authorities in Azerbaijan terminated the nationality of an independent journalist and chairman of an NGO for the protection of journalists, rendering him stateless. The Court found that such measure had been arbitrary and in violation of Article 8 ECHR, given that it rendered the applicant stateless, in disregard for the 1961 Convention, and was not accompanied by due procedural safeguards. In the particular circumstances of the case, for the purposes of examining the arbitrariness of the decision terminating the applicant’s nationality, the Court did not consider it necessary to establish whether the applicant’s renunciation of his nationality was forced or voluntary, which was a matter in dispute between the parties.

Case name (in original language)
Emin Huseynov v. Azerbaijan
Case status
Case number
European Court of Human Rights, Emin Huseynov v. Azerbaijan (application no. 1/16), 13 July 2023),
Date of decision
Court / UN Treaty Body
European Court of Human Rights
Applicant's country of birth
Applicant's country of residence
Relevant Legislative Provisions

European Convention on Human Rights: Articles 8, 10, 18, 34, 38, 46.


The applicant was an independent journalist and the chairman of the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety (IRFS). In April 2014 the Azerbaijani Prosecutor General’s Office opened a criminal case under Articles 308.1 (abuse of power) and 313 (forgery by an official) of the Azerbaijani Criminal Code, in connection with alleged irregularities in the financial activities of several NGOs. Soon thereafter the bank accounts of numerous NGOs and civil society activists were frozen and various human rights defenders and civil society activists were arrested.

In July 2014 the applicant learned that the tax authorities had launched an investigation into the activities of the IRFS and he attempted to take a flight from Baku to Istanbul, but at Baku Airport he was not allowed to leave Azerbaijan. The applicant’s mother informed him that she had received a telephone call from an employee of the prosecuting authorities inviting the applicant to present himself to the prosecuting authorities for questioning. However, fearing his imminent arrest, the applicant went into hiding. On 18 August 2014 he went to the embassy of the Swiss Confederation in Baku, where he found refuge.

 According to the Azerbaijani Government, on 19 August 2014 the applicant was criminally charged and the Nasimi District Court ordered his arrest. In February and June 2015, while at the embassy of the Swiss Confederation, the applicant submitted a request and application form to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, stating that he wished to renounce his Azerbaijani citizenship. The applicant confirmed that he did not have any citizenship other than Azerbaijani citizenship.

On 9 June 2015 the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Azerbaijan received 236,281 United States dollars (USD) from the Swiss authorities by bank transfer, for payment of the applicant’s tax debt in Azerbaijan. The Nasimi District Court revoked the order for the applicant’s arrest, having regard to the fact that the tax debt had been paid and, according to the Government, the Nasimi District Court subsequently quashed a decision declaring the applicant a wanted person. On 12 June 2015 the applicant left Azerbaijan on a plane with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Swiss Confederation. On 27 June 2015 the State Migration Service sent the applicant a letter confirming the termination of his Azerbaijani citizenship. On 19 October 2015 the applicant was granted asylum in Switzerland.


Decision & Reasoning

The court found the complaint admissible, stating that presidential order no. 126 of 10 June 2015 is not a challengeable normative legal act according to the Law on Normative Legal Acts. The applicant couldn’t challenge it in administrative court proceedings as the President isn’t considered an administrative body in domestic law. The Government did not provide examples of successful challenges in general jurisdiction courts, and the applicant never received a copy of the order, making domestic challenges impossible.

The court rules a violation of Article 8. The applicant became a stateless person after his citizenship was terminated, resulting in legal uncertainty, and affecting his social identity.  The impugned measure had a significant impact on the applicant’s enjoyment of his right to respect for private life.

The impugned decision was considered arbitrary. In determining this, the Court considered the tests under Article 8 § 2. It examined whether the measure was in accordance with law, accompanied by procedural safeguards and whether the authorities acted diligently and swiftly. The court didn’t investigate whether the renunciation was voluntary or forced, focusing on procedural fairness. It noted that the termination ignored international norms preventing statelessness. Regarding other complaints, the Court didn’t find evidence of interference with the applicant’s right to apply individually.


The Court found the applicant's Article 8 rights had been violated as he became a stateless person after his citizenship was terminated.

Caselaw cited
  • Ahmadov v. Azerbaijan, no. 32538/10, §§ 42-45, 30 January 2020
  • Alpeyeva and Dzhalagoniya v. Russia, nos. 7549/09 and 33330/11, §§ 108-109, 12 June 2018
  • Assanidze v. Georgia [GC], no. 71503/01, § 202, ECHR 2004-II
  • Ayyubzade v. Azerbaijan, no. 6180/15, § 60, 2 March 2023
  • Bagirov v. Azerbaijan, nos. 81024/12 and 28198/15, § 106, 25 June 2020
  • Centre for Legal Resources on behalf of Valentin Câmpeanu v. Romania [GC], no. 47848/08, § 156, ECHR 2014
  • Democracy and Human Rights Resource Centre and Mustafayev v. Azerbaijan, nos. 74288/14 and 64568/16, § 120, 14 October 2021
  • G.K. v. Belgium, no. 58302/10, § 54, 21 May 2019
  • Genovese v. Malta, no. 53124/09, § 30, 11 October 2011
  • Hashemi and Others v. Azerbaijan, nos. 1480/16 and 6 others, §§ 45-47 and 51, 13 January 2022
  • Ilgar Mammadov v. Azerbaijan (infringement proceedings) [GC], no. 15172/13, § 195, 29 May 2019
  • K2 v. the United Kingdom (dec.), no. 42387/13, §§ 49-50, 7 February 2017
  • Karassev v. Finland (dec.), no. 31414/96, ECHR 1999-II
  • Makuchyan and Minasyan v. Azerbaijan and Hungary, no. 17247/13, §§ 61-232, 26 May 2020
  • Par and Hyodo v. Azerbaijan, nos. 54563/11 and 22428/15, § 47, 18 November 2021
  • Ramadan v. Malta, no. 76136/12, §§ 62 and 85 89, 21 June 2016
  • Riener v. Bulgaria, no. 46343/99, § 154, 23 May 2006
  • Shenturk and Others v. Azerbaijan, nos. 41326/17 and 3 others, § 101, 10 April 2022
  • Shorazova v. Malta, no. 51853/19, § 112, 3 March 2022
  • Shuriyya Zeynalov v. Azerbaijan, no. 69460/12, § 42, 10 September 2020
  • Usmanov v. Russia, no. 43936/18, §§ 58 and 64, 22 December 2020