PACE to debate report on humanitarian impact of Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will debate a report on “Humanitarian consequences of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan” during a plenary session today.

Thee presentation of the report will be done by the rapporteur Mr Paul GAVAN (Ireland, UEL). The text of the report with proposed amendments that will be debated and voted on is available here.

In the draft resolution, the Parliamentary Assembly regrets the tragic humanitarian consequences of the “conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.” Armenian lawmakers Ruben Rubinyan and Vladimir Vardanyan have tabled an amendment, proposing to use the wording “Nagorno Karabakh conflict” instead.

The Assembly recalls that both Armenia and Azerbaijan committed themselves, upon their accession to the Council of Europe in January 2001, to use only peaceful means for settling the conflict. Therefore, it says, the 6-week war in 2020 constitutes a breach of these commitments and should be duly addressed by the Council of Europe.

The Assembly notes that under Article 8 of the Trilateral statement “An exchange of prisoners of war … is to be carried out” and that both countries claim to have complied with this. The Assembly however notes the concerns of the European Court of Human Rights, communicated to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on 16 March 2021, in relation to 188 Armenians allegedly captured by Azerbaijan (some of whom have since been returned to Armenia). In this connection the Assembly:

  • notes that under the Geneva Convention (III) Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War and Geneva Convention (IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilian persons in time of War, both Azerbaijan and Armenia have binding obligations to repatriate prisoners of war and release civilian persons without delay after the secession of active hostilities;
  • considers that the clear intention of Article 8 of the Trilateral statement was the exchange of all detained persons, without distinction as to the status assigned by one or other of the parties;
  • is deeply concerned about the fate of around 30 Armenians, allegedly seen, filmed or photographed in captivity, with no indication as to their current whereabouts. The Assembly is alarmed at allegations that these persons have been subjected to enforced disappearances and possibly killed;
  • calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to expedite their investigations on this matter and provide relevant information to the European Court of Human Rights and to Armenia;
  • welcomes the recent release of 15 Armenians on 12 June 2021 and a further release of 15 persons on 3 July 2021, bringing the total of repatriated to above 100;
  • remains concerned about the detention conditions of around 48 Armenians captured after the Trilateral statement, who are still in captivity, most of whom have undergone or are undergoing speedy criminal trials, which raise fair trial issues under the European Convention on Human Rights;
  • calls on the Azerbaijani authorities to release all remaining captives and return them to Armenia without further delay;
  • encourages the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) to carry out an ad hoc visit, notwithstanding that the ICRC has regular access.
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