Absence of possibility to exchange the bodies and prisoners inhumane – Armenia’s Ombudsman

The absence of possibility of exchange of bodies and prisoners of war for 19 days now is extremely inhumane, Armenian Human Rights Defender Arman Tatoyan said in a statement today.

The Ombudsman’s full statement is provided below:

Since September 27, the Human Rights Defender of Armenia has been monitoring the situation closely, the investigations reveal that the huge number of military attacks against Artsakh and Armenia are indiscriminate and do not differentiate between military objects and civilian settlements, in many cases the attacks deliberately target the civilian population.

Peaceful citizens are being killed or receive life threatening injuries from prohibited weaponry. As the Human Rights Defender of Artsakh regularly informs me, there are cases, when those injured are in different cities and towns of Artsakh, but due to continous violent attacks, medical personnel are not able to fully reach those places and provide necessary medical treatment. According to my colleague, in Artsakh the Azerbaijani military forces have attacked a medical emergency ambulance and a hospital. According to official data, there were also civilians in the hospital. It is regularly announced about deaths among military personnel.

Yesterday, I had emergency consultations with the relevant authorities of Armenia, and the same was done by my counterpart in Artsakh. In both cases, in Armenia and Artsakh, we received firm assurances as to the readiness to exchange the bodies and captives. The authorities made it clear that the absence of such a humanitarian opportunity is utterly impermissible. Monitoring shows that this readiness has been repeatedly expressed publicly in Armenia and Artsakh.

The current situation includes continuous and gross violations of International Humanitarian Law, particularly the 1949 Geneva Conventions and fundamental requirements enshrined in Customary International Law. This includes violating the rights of injured civilians and constitutes humiliating treatment of the bodies of those killed and inhumane treatment of their close relatives.

I join the the public statements of concern made by the ICRC Eurasia regional directors as of October 13 on the absence of ceasefire and lack of opportunity to conduct their humanitarian mission. Several days ago I also held a conversation with Claire Meytraud, Head of ICRC Delegation in Armenia.

It is imperative to immediately stop this excessive inhumane treatment and enable the ICRC to conduct its humanitarian mission on all sides. This must be ensured in a way to provide actual possibility for such a mission and not formalistic.

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