MAY 21, 2020
Since May 21, 2018—two years ago today—Server Mustafayev, a Crimean human rights defender, has been kept in detention on terrorism charges. After his arrest and initial detention in Crimea, he was transported across the border into Russia, where he has been put on trial along with several other Crimean Tatar activists, despite a lack of evidence produced to date to support the allegations against them.
Trial monitors who have been observing the trial for the Clooney Foundation for Justice’s (“CFJ”) TrialWatch initiative have described numerous potential violations of the defendants’ rights, including the court’s failure to address concerns that the defendants were unable to understand the interpretation; the judge’s assistance to the prosecution in formulating questions; the use of a cage-like dock to hold the defendants during trial; and the prosecution’s reliance on a secret witness whom the defendants had a limited ability to question. This is in addition to the failure to address the defendants’ health concerns, which CFJ has previously highlighted.
This trial takes place in the context of a reported crackdown on minority groups in the Crimean peninsula, including through the application of Russian anti-terrorism law in violation of international humanitarian law. At the time of Mustafayev’s arrest, several UN mandate holders expressed concern that he was targeted for “his peaceful and legitimate work.”
CFJ calls on Russia to ensure a fair trial for Mr. Mustafayev and his co-defendants. TrialWatch will continue to monitor the proceedings when they resume on May 27.