Armenian Ombudsman raises the issue of POWS with Minsk Group Co-Chairs -
Armenian Ombudsman raises the issue of POWS with Minsk Group Co-Chairs
Armenia’s Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan has raised the issue of return of Armenian prisoners from Azerbaijan and protection of their rights in official letters addressed to the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Andrzej Kasprzyk.
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The letter states, among other things, that the return or release of prisoners should be considered solely in the context of human rights or the humanitarian process. The letter applies to both servicemen and civilians.
“The return of prisoners must be ensured immediately after the cessation of hostilities. This is a universal requirement for international action to be automatically applied. Doing the opposite violates international human rights requirements – international humanitarian law, including the Third Geneva Convention 1949,” Arman Tatoyan says.
Therefore, he says, paragraph 8 of the tripartite declaration of November 9, 2020 should be interpreted autonomously and should not depend on other points of the statement.
According to the Human Rights Defender, the tripartite statement of should apply to all situations that may have appeared before and after November 9, as long as there the objective need for human rights protection and humanitarian process arising from the military actions persists.
“It is a matter of fundamental importance that the return of 64 Armenian servicemen captives is delayed by abusing legal proceedings, artificially giving them the status of suspects or culprits, posing them as terrorists and using detention as a preventive measure,” the Ombudsman says
Studies by the Ombudsman of Armenia and the results of the investigation of the complaints come to confirm that the release of the Armenian POWs and other detainees in Azerbaijan is being artificially delayed, and Baku fails to repot the real number of captives. This also contradicts international human rights requirements, violating in the first place the rights of their family members.
Moreover, the evidence collected by the Human Rights Defender’s Office confirms that their number is higher than the Azerbaijani authorities have confirmed.
“All this causes mental suffering to the families of the captives, causes tension in the Armenian society,” the Ombudsman says.
He stresses that the absolute urgency of the issue of the release of prisoners should be considered in the context of “anti-Armenianism” in Azerbaijan, which is encouraged by the country’s authorities and even cultural figures.
Therefore, taking into account the humanitarian mandates and role of the OSCE Minsk Group and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in the protection of human rights and the fact that our compatriots were taken prisoner in Artsakh, the Human Rights Defender has drawn their attention to the mentioned and other issues, stressing the urgent need to take decisive measures towards the release of prisoners.
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