CoE Commissioner says escalation of the Karabakh conflict poses a serious threat to human rights

I deeply regret the resumption of the military conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which has already resulted in many casualties, said today the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović.

“I remind both states about their obligation under the European Convention on Human Rights to safeguard the right to life and to protect populations from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The escalation of the conflict is posing a serious threat to these rights,” she said.

“I would like to emphasize the importance of objective reporting from the conflict zone, as misreporting and propaganda can only inflame tensions further. I call on the media to apply the highest possible standards of journalistic ethics and professionalism when reporting on the conflict. Media coverage and access to information are crucial means of providing accurate, timely and comprehensive information, particularly in times of crisis,” the Commissioner added.

“In line with the Council of Europe Guidelines on protecting freedom of expression and information in times of crisis, the authorities in both countries should allow accredited media professionals access to crisis areas and see to it that journalists covering the conflict are safe. The authorities should also ensure that the public has free access to information, online as well as offline. Measures that intentionally prevent or disrupt access to or dissemination of information online and offline undermine the work of journalists to inform the public,” Dunja Mijatović said.

She said there is an imperative need to avoid political rhetoric designed to fuel tension between the two countries.

“This means that the authorities in both countries should take action against any use of hate speech in the media and promote mutual understanding and trust,” the Commissioner stated.

She urged both sides to stop military escalation and resume negotiations for a peaceful settlement to the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. This is the only way to spare further civilian and military lives and protect civilian populations from the devastating impact of a new military conflict.

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