Armenia’s Ombudsman raises the issue of return of POWs with OSCE, CoE and UN

In an official letter to the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, the Council of Europe and the UN Commissioners for Human Rights and other international bodies, Armenia’s Human Rights Defender has provided additional information on the urgency of the return of Armenian captives from Azerbaijan, the real situation, the protection of their rights and missing persons.

The letter primarily indicates that there is an ongoing, open armed conflict. From the point of view of international [humanitarian] law, this means that regardless of whether or not they were taken prisoner after the November 9, 2020 tripartite statement, they are prisoners of war and should be released immediately. The issue is artificially delayed by openly abusing legal processes, presenting them as terrorists and in violation of international rules, using detention as punishment.

“All the while, this is a universal demand requirement for the implementation of international rulings to be applied automatically. The opposite grossly violates international human rights requirements and the international humanitarian law, including the 1949 1949 Geneva Convention. The release and return of prisoners should be considered solely in the context of the human rights and humanitarian processes,” the Human Rights Defender has said.

The Human Rights Defender’s monitoring, as well as the results of the investigation of the complaints received continuously confirm that the Azerbaijani authorities, in gross violation of international requirements, artificially delay the release of the Armenian captives, and deliberately do not disclose the actual number of prisoners. With this policy, they are violating the rights of prisoners and causing mental sufferings to the families of the captives and the missing persons, as well as causing tension in the Armenian society.

Evidence gathered by the Human Rights Defender’s Office confirms that the number of captives held in Azerbaijan is higher than the Azerbaijani authorities have confirmed.

“The absolute urgency with respect to the issue of the release and return of captives must be considered in the context of the policy of hatred towards Armenians and animosity in Azerbaijan, which has been continually propagated at the state level,” Arman Tatoyan says.

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