Over 5 000 Armenian Prisoners Tortured in Azerbaijan

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Over 5,000 Armenia’s held prisoner in Azerbaijan between 1989 and 1995–who were then repatriated–were subjected to torture and mistreatment degrading human dignity said the Executive Director of the Fund Against Violation of Law (FAVL)–Larisa Alaverdian–at a June 23 gathering observing United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. According to Alaverdian–many of the prisoners had wandered into foreign territory from villages bordering Azerbaijan.

Armenia’signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention Against Torture and Other Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment four years ago and has observed this day since.

The exact number of Armenia’s currently in Azeri captivity is unknown though there are as many as 947 people presumed missing. More specific information about those missing has been given by people who were once prisoners in Azeri territory–and by Azeri non-governmental organizations that cooperate with Armenian human rights activists under international grant projects. Based on this information–at least a hundred people from the list are alive; there is also information about the whereabouts of at least twenty people. However–Azeri authorities refuse to disclose any information about those held captive.

According to Alaverdian–prisoners released from captivity as well as their relatives require rehabilitation. Thus far–as many as 620 people have undergone psychological and medical treatment at the FAVL Rehabilitation Center.

Human rights activists in Armenia have also focused their attention on torture and maltreatment of prisoners as a tool to extract evidence when conducting investigations in Armenia.

"Courts in Armenia continue to accept evidence extracted through torture and under duress in circumstances that humiliate human dignity. At the same time–those who use violence and mistreat suspects and prisoners effectively go unpunished; the state–nevertheless–rejects adopting legislation to compensate victims of torture and violence," said Alaverdian.

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