FIRST SECTION

DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 31799/03 
by Ayaz MUTALIBOV 
against Azerbaijan

The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting on 19 February 2004 as a Chamber composed of:

Mr C.L. Rozakis, President
 Mr E. Levits
 Mrs S. Botoucharova
 Mr A. Kovler
 Mr V. Zagrebelsky
 Mrs E. Steiner, 
 Mr K. Hajiyev, judges
and Mr S. Nielsen, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged on 24 September 2003,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicant, Mr Ayaz Mutalibov, is an Azerbaijani national, who was born in 1938 and lives in Moscow. He was represented before the Court by Mr S. Abdullayev, a lawyer practising in Baku.

The facts of the case, as submitted by the applicant, may be summarised as follows.

The applicant was the first president of the Republic of Azerbaijan since it gained independence in 1991. He was elected by popular vote on 8 September 1991 and remained in office until 15 May 1992. Thereafter, the applicant left Azerbaijan and settled in Moscow.

At present, a criminal case is pending against the applicant before the Azerbaijani authorities. The government of Azerbaijan had asked the relevant Russian authorities to extradite the applicant to Azerbaijan, but this request was rejected. The applicant remains active in Azerbaijani politics and is a co-chairman of the Social Democratic Party of Azerbaijan.

Before the presidential elections of 15 October 2003, a number of the applicant’s political supporters in Azerbaijan formed a “voters initiative group” that decided to nominate the applicant as a presidential candidate for the upcoming elections. To this effect, on 16 July 2003 they filed an application with the Central Election Commission (the “Commission”). On 21 July 2003 the Commission rejected this application for failure to comply with the election laws and refused to register the applicant as a presidential candidate. No further explanations were given in the Commission’s formal decision.

Thereafter, the voters’ initiative group filed a suit in the Court of Appeal, requesting to quash the Commission’s decision as unlawful. On 24 July 2003 the Court of Appeal rejected this request. Upon an appeal in cassation, on 7 August 2003 the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision.

COMPLAINT

The applicant complains under Article 6 § 1 of the Convention that the domestic courts were biased and unfair and they wrongfully upheld the allegedly unlawful decision of the Commission.

THE LAW

The applicant complains of the unfairness and lack of impartiality of the domestic courts in the case concerning the Commission’s refusal to register him as a candidate in presidential elections. He invokes Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, which provides, in the relevant part:

“1.  In the determination of his civil rights and obligations or of any criminal charge against him, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. ...”

The Court notes that the applicant was not, as such, a party to the proceedings concerned and the question therefore arises whether the applicant may claim to be a victim of the alleged violation of the Convention as required by Article 34 of the Convention. In the circumstances of the present case, however, the Court does not find it necessary to determine this issue because even assuming that the applicant has fulfilled this requirement the application is in any event inadmissible for the following reasons.

The Court notes that, for Article 6 § 1 of the Convention to be applicable, the proceedings in issue must concern a dispute over “civil rights and obligations.” However, proceedings concerning electoral disputes fall outside the scope of Article 6 of the Convention, in so far as they concern the exercise of political rights and do not, therefore, have any bearing on civil rights and obligations (see, mutatis mutandis, Pierre-Bloch v. France, judgment of 21 October 1997, Reports of Judgments and Decisions, 1997-VI, p. 2223, § 50, and Cheminade v. France (dec.), no. 31599/96, ECHR 1999-II).

In the present case, the object of the judicial proceedings before the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court was to verify the correctness of the Central Electoral Commission’s decision not to register the applicant as a candidate in the presidential elections of 15 October 2003. Accordingly, the proceedings in issue concerned the applicant’s political right to stand as a candidate in the elections, which does not fall within the meaning of the term “civil rights and obligations” for the purposes of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.

Therefore, the Court finds that the application is incompatible ratione materiae with the provisions of the Convention within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 § 4.

For these reasons, the Court by a majority

Declares the application inadmissible.

Søren Nielsen Christos Rozakis 
 Registrar President

MUTALIBOV v. AZERBAIJAN DECISION


MUTALIBOV v. AZERBAIJAN DECISION