International humanitarian law and international human rights law uphold the right of families to know the fate and whereabouts of their relatives who went missing during the armed conflict, Andranik Hovhannisyan, Permanent Representative of Armenia to the UN Office in Geneva, said, addressing the General Debate under Agenda Item 3 at the 46th Session of the UN human Rights Council.
“Parties to the conflict must take all possible measures to elucidate the destiny of such persons. This obligation has been continuously violated by Azerbaijan, which has refused to share information about numerous Armenian combatants and civilians, who went missing during the recent war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan has displayed poor cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross allowing it to visit only some of the captives and only several months after detention,” the Ambassador said.
He reminded that with regard to the Armenian captives the European Court of Human Rights has recently stated that “The Azerbaijani Government have frequently failed to provide the information requested by the Court.”
“Many of the missing persons appeared on the short videos and images disseminated in the social media of Azerbaijan, which as a rule depict cruel, degrading and inhumane treatment against them. Numerous families went through anguish and pain long after the hostilities have ceased identifying their loved ones in such videos but not being able to clarify their fate. There were 31 confirmed cases of Armenian civilians killed in the Azerbaijani custody, including through decapitation,” Amb. Hovhannisyan said.
Hence, he said, Armenia is very much concerned that many of those persons who went missing face an existential threat in the Azerbaijani custody. “We would like to stress that enforced disappearance of persons is considered as one of the acts constituting crimes against humanity if it is committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.”
“The use of force, violence and coercive measures by Azerbaijan cannot serve as any basis for just and durable solutions. They just exacerbate the wounds and further protract the conflict. The lasting and sustainable settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict rests on the recognition and respect of the human rights of its people,” the Ambassador stated.