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 Tuesday, March 2 2021 10:54
Marianna Mkrtchyan

Stepanakert: The international community must force Azerbaijan to  comply with its humanitarian law obligations and return Armenian  prisoners of war

Stepanakert: The international community must force Azerbaijan to  comply with its humanitarian law obligations and return Armenian  prisoners of war

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.


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