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 Monday, January 18 2021 15:45

Ombudsman of Armenia appeals to OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs on the  return of Armenian prisoners of war

Ombudsman of Armenia appeals to OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs on the  return of Armenian prisoners of war

ArmInfo.Today the Human Rights Defender addressed an official letter to the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and the Personal Representative of the OSCE  Chairman-in-Office, Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk, on the return of  prisoners from Azerbaijan and the protection of their rights.

As the press service of the RA Ombudsman reports, the letter states,  among other things, that the release and return of prisoners should  be considered solely in the context of human rights and 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 of  international practice which is to be automatically applied. 

Doing the opposite violates international human rights requirements -  international humanitarian law, including the 1949 UN Convention on  Human Rights (the third convention).  Therefore, since paragraph 8 of  the tripartite declaration of November 9, 2020 has an autonomous  meaning, it should be acted upon exclusively with an autonomous  interpretation. 

In any case, it should not be considered in connection with or  dependence on other points of the announcement.  The tripartite  statement of November 9 must be applied both before and after all the  situations that have arisen, as long as there is an objective need  for the protection of human rights and the humanitarian process due  to hostilities.  

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 accused, positing  them as terrorists, and using detention as a punishment.  

Studies by the Ombudsman of Armenia and the results of the  investigation of the complaints continuously confirm that the release  of the Armenian captives and other detainees in Azerbaijan is being  artificially delayed, and the real number of captives is not being  reported. This also contradicts international human rights  requirements, violating the rights of their families in the first  instance.  

Moreover, the evidence gathered by the Human Rights Defender's Office  confirms that their number is higher than the Azerbaijani authorities  have confirmed.  This, despite taking into account the return of 44  prisoners.  

All of this causes mental suffering to the families of the captives,  and causes tension in Armenian society.  

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  (an extraordinary report on this issue was sent based on evidence).  

Therefore, taking into account the humanitarian mandates of the OSCE  Minsk Group and the Personal Representative of the OSCE  Chairman-in-Office, the role of human rights defenders, and the fact  that our compatriots were taken prisoner in Atsrakh (Nagorno  Karabakh), the Co-Chairs called attention to this and all other  issues. This is a matter of an urgency which necessitates the taking  of decisive measures to exclude the politicization of the issue while  bringing about a swift and just resolution.  

The Human Rights Defender awares that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs  of Armenia is also consistently raising this matter, including with  the OSCE Minsk Group and the Personal Representative of the OSCE  Chairman-in-Office.  Nevertheless, the Human Rights Defender also  presented with the results of the independent observations and the  examination of the complaints registered taking into account the  Human Rights Defender's capacity as an official acting independently  of the Government of Armenia, who is endowed with a constitutional  mandate for the protection of human rights.


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