PACE Migration Committee Chair urges return of Armenian POWs

Chairman of the Migration Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has expressed deep concern over the fate of alleged captives and missing persons from the recent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

“I am deeply concerned about the fate of the alleged captives and missing persons from the recent conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” Pierre Alain Fridez (Switzerland, SOC), Chair of the PACE Migration Committee said after an exchange of views on this issue in the Committee.

“This is all the more worrying in the context of the 16 March 2021 press release of the European Court of Human Rights, indicating that the Azerbaijani Government had failed “to respect the time-limits set by the Court for the submission of information on the individuals concerned and the rather general and limited information provided by them.” The Court identified 188 Armenians allegedly captured by Azerbaijan. Notwithstanding that this number may have gone down since that date, there remain a very large number of persons of concern.

“It is incumbent upon Azerbaijan to fully co-operate with the Court, providing information on the whereabouts and fate of the remaining persons of concern on this list, and ensure that they are returned without delay in accordance with article 8 of the trilateral statement of 9-10 November 2020,” he said.

“I am also concerned about the overall issue of missing persons believed to have fallen in the recent conflict, as well as – in general – the fate of missing persons from the open conflict which took place between 1991 and 1994. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan must co-operate without precondition, in good faith and with the aid of the ICRC, to find a solution to the issue of missing persons, and to organize the swift release of all current captives,” Mr Fridez said.

“The rising death toll from mines planted in the conflict region, where presumably Armenia holds most of the information and mine maps, is equally a matter of great concern. Information, where available, needs to be urgently disclosed, and I count on Armenia and Azerbaijan to co-operate in good faith and address this pressing issue to avoid ongoing death and injury.”

The Committee is ready to assist both countries in solving the humanitarian consequences of this tragic long running conflict. Its rapporteur, Mr Paul Gavan (Ireland UEL), is preparing a report on the issue of the “Humanitarian consequences of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan”.

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