ArmInfo. Azerbaijan's refusal to grant prisoner-of-war status to captured Armenian servicemen and carry out their repatriation, as well as to release civilians, as announced in an interview by the President of Azerbaijan to foreign journalists on February 26, as well as in a statement by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry on February 27, is a gross violation of Azerbaijan's obligations on international humanitarian law and does not stand up to scrutiny. This is stated in the statement of the Artsakh Foreign Ministry.
It was emphasized in Stepanakert that the fabricated position of official Baku, which claims that the Armenian servicemen taken by it are not prisoners of war, since they were detained after the signing of the Trilateral Statement of the Heads of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia, does not exempt Azerbaijan from its obligations assumed under the Geneva Convention. on the treatment of prisoners of war. At the same time, the NKR Foreign Ministry added that as a party to the Geneva Conventions, Azerbaijan does not have the freedom to re-qualify the status of these persons at its discretion in order to avoid obligations under international humanitarian law.
“The duty of Azerbaijan to comply with international humanitarian law (jus in bello) and to ensure its observance is not affected by arguments regarding the rules of the use of force (jus ad bellum), which are governed by other international treaties, in particular the UN Charter. The duty of states to comply with the principles of international humanitarian law is absolute and in any way does not depend on the interpretation of the legality of the use of force, "the Karabakh Foreign Ministry stressed. At the same time, the Artsakh Foreign Ministry stated that in its argumentation that the captured servicemen are not prisoners of war, Azerbaijan also openly distorts the facts and demonstrates flagrant impunity.
"64 Armenian servicemen taken prisoner by Azerbaijan in December 2020 were deployed in the villages of Khtsaberd and Khin Tager of the Hadrut region of the Artsakh Republic, which at the time of the signing of the Trilateral Statement were under the control of the Artsakh Defense Army. They remained in their positions in accordance with the requirement of paragraph 1 of this statement. The capture of the mentioned 64 servicemen is a direct consequence of Azerbaijan's violation of the clear requirement of the Trilateral Statement on the complete cessation of hostilities.
Azerbaijan's attempt to retrain the status of prisoners of war in order to avoid obligations under international humanitarian law is nothing more than a verbal balancing act, which confirms the fact that, in addition to the 64 military personnel captured in December 2020, Azerbaijan still refuses to repatriate both military personnel and civilians. captured during the military aggression against the Republic of Artsakh, unleashed on September 27, 2020. Azerbaijan's position is absolutely untenable both in legal and factual aspects, "Stepankert said in a statement.
At the same time, the NKR Foreign Ministry noted that the obvious evasion of official Baku from its obligations under international humanitarian law regarding Armenian military personnel and civilians not only contradicts the requirements of the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War and the Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Population in Time of War, but also equates the status prisoners to hostage status.
"It is obvious that Azerbaijan is keeping these persons in order to use them as a lever to advance its own position in the implementation of its strategic goals against the Republic of Artsakh and the Republic of Armenia.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Artsakh sent letters to the specialized bodies of the UN and the Council of Europe with a detailed analysis on the continuation of the application of international humanitarian law to persons taken prisoner by Azerbaijan. The letters explain in detail why members of the armed forces of a state involved in a dispute with another state are entitled to prisoner of war status if they fall into the hands of the enemy, regardless of whether there is full-scale hostilities between the two states.
International specialized structures, called upon to monitor the implementation of Azerbaijan's obligations under both international humanitarian law and international human rights law, adhere to the same opinion. These structures, in fact, repeatedly demanded the immediate release of prisoners of war and civilians captured by Azerbaijan, both in open statements and during closed meetings with representatives of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan stubbornly continues to refuse to fulfill these requirements. In accordance with the provisions of the Tripartite Declaration and the Geneva Conventions, we demand that the Azerbaijani authorities unquestioningly comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, instead of continuing to justify their violations with unfounded unlawful statements. We also call on the international community of states - in accordance with the first article of all the Geneva Conventions - to compel Azerbaijan to comply urgently and fully with its obligations under the Conventions, "they summed up in Stepanakert.